Government

Summit Council Approves $950,000 in Road Improvement Projects

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Summit City Administrator Christopher Cotter discusses the city's response to Monday's tornado. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
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Summit Common Council Public Works Chairman Robert Rubino discusses road improvement projects approved at Tuesday's council meeting. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
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SUMMIT, NJ - A total of $950,000 in bond ordinances to fund road improvement projects on three Summit streets was approved on Tuesday by the Summit Common Council.

The projects include $400,000 for sidewalks, curbing and street improvements on a portion of Badeau Avenue, with owners of five of the 14 homes on the street that front on the area where the new sidewalks and curbing will be installed to be assessed for the cost of those improvements. Also included are curbing and road improvements on a portion of Llewellyn Road for $250,000, and curbing, sidewalks and road improvements to a portion of Shadyside Avenue for $300,000.

Council Public Works Chairman Robert Rubino said the Shadyside Avenue project is in conjunction with a recently-completed project on Hawthorne Place.

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On another project, the council voted to award a $509,667 contract for improvements to Waldron Avenue to A&J Contractors of Monroe Township.

Rubino pointed out that the bid came in 29 percent lower than the high bid, thus saving the city a considerable amount of money on the project.

Councilman Thomas Getzendanner congratulated members of the city staff for persistence in completing this project over the course of five years to correct what he termed the worst home flooding problem in Summit.

On another improvement project, the governing body authorized advertisement of bids for replacement of decorative crosswalks on Summit Avenue to match crosswalks installed at the intersections of Elm and Broad Street and the Village Green. Union County will pave Summit Avenue this year and it has granted the city permission to replace existing granite block crosswalks with the decorative crosswalks as the county completes its improvements.

Additionally, the city's department of public works plans to replace five crosswalks in the central business district this summer.

Council finance chairman Dave Bomgaars noted that Summit Downtown Inc. has offered to pay for some of the costs of the new crosswalks in the business district.

Director of community services Beth Kinney said the SDI contribution will be factored into the bidding process for the business district crosswalks after the SDI board of trustees determines the exact amount of the group's contribution.

On another matter, Getzendanner, referring to $24,000 in tax court judgments resulting from residential tax appeals, continued to press from a citywide revaluation of properties which, he said, would result in properties in Summit coming closer to their market value and thus possibly lessening the Union County tax burden on property owners.

Bomgaars, however, replied that a citywide revaluation, while bringing more fairness to the system, would bring no additional funds into Summit and probably would result in one third of the property owners being happy with the result, one third unhappy with the result and one third remaining neutral.

Both Councilmen Patrick Hurley and Albert Dill, Jr. said the process would be too costly to the city, and Dill added that it probably would result in a number of additional tax appeals.

Hurley also said that a citywide reassessment, especially in the fragile economy, could cause some homeowners to lose their homes.

Bomgaars also said the city's tax attorney had advised the council finance committee that it would not be wise for Summit to be the first municipality in the county, and the only one at this point, requesting a community-wide reassessment.

The council also approved the appointment of Michael DiGeronimo to a two-year term as first alternate to the board of adjustment and the movement of Jesse Butler from first alternate to a full member and David Nicholas Cohron from second alternate to full member. Both have terms expiring at the end of this year.

City administrator Christopher Cotter also received grants totaling $20,900 from the Summit Area Public Foundation. The grants include $12,500 for continuation of the Senior Connections bus service and $8,400 for the city's community programs summer camp program for underprivileged children. Foundation president John W. Cooper and secretary Lyle Brehm presented the grant checks.

On another matter, Fire Chief Joseph Houck thanked Newark Fire Chief John G. Centanni for use of his city's equipment and facilities in four days of vehicle extrication and specialized rescue training of the Summit and Millburn fire departments.

Houck said the three departments, because of their proximity to Route 78, would possibly have reason for joint cooperation in emergencies involving extrication of accident victims from vehicles. He also thanked Millburn Fire Chief Michael Roberts for use of specialized equipment from his department.

Roberts noted Millburn and Summit have had a shared services relationship for 28 years, and Centanni said it had been a pleasure to work with the two neighboring departments.

Houck added, “The Millburn and Summit firefighters responded to the scene, established command and developed a plan to secure the scene and free the trapped and injured patients, all under the watchful eye of the instructor.”

Cotter also reported that, during Monday's tornado in the area, the city fire department responded to more than 30 incidents, nine homes were damaged by falling tree limbs and two homes could not be re-inhabited until repairs mandated by the city building department were made. He said the city would waive permit fees for restoration of electrical service and residents could request curbside pickup of storm-related debris Tuesday and Wednesday via the city website or telephoning the department of public works.

Council president Richard Madden also noted Independence Day ceremonies in the city on Thursday would begin with a flag raising at 9:45 a.m. at Memorial Field followed by a children's bicycle parade beginning at 10 a.m., a softball game among the city's uniformed services at noon.

Madden added fireworks have been scheduled for 9 p.m. on Thursday but would be postponed if inclement weather does not allow the event to take place that night.

During the public comment portion of the meeting Kinney told Michael Vernotico of Blackburn Place, Democratic Second Ward council candidate, that she would look into a complaint that a resident who lived at Broad and John Streets may be illegally operating a business by selling vehicles in his driveway.

Also, Police Chief Robert Weck promised to discuss with Charles Belk of Springfield his complaints about vehicles speeding on Briant Parkway adjacent to the park, where he frequently walks his dogs.

Weck said the city had recently begun restricting turns onto the street during rush hours because of traffic volume. He said traffic studies did not show an unusual amount of speeding on the street.

Belk suggested that the city consider installing speed “humps” on the roadway. Although Weck suggested this might not be possible he promised to discuss it with the Springfield resident.

Dill added there is legislation pending in Trenton that would allow communities the options of reducing speed limits below 25 mph on side streets.

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