SUSSEX, NJ – Talks continued Tuesday night at the council meeting of Sussex Borough over updates to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Route 23 Realignment Project affecting Sussex roadways, and properties of borough residents. In a nutshell, the project will transform Route 23 as it crosses through the borough into two separate lanes for northbound and southbound traffic, with the ultimate goal of safer and faster traffic patterns. According to the plan, what is now Hamburg Avenue, will be designated to northbound traffic, while Walling Avenue will be for southbound travelers. The Department of Transportation will answer questions about these changes at a public meeting on April 17, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m., at the Sussex Firehouse.
Although an initial bid for the Realignment Project was awarded in February, mayor Jonathan Rose informed the council that the cost estimate of infrastructure work had returned at $1.3 million, excluding additional construction costs such as manholes, clean outs, valve work and other unforeseen expenses. Rose speculated the final price tag could be anywhere between $1.7 to $2 million, solely financed by the borough.
“And the state is not going to give us anything toward this?” questioned council member Linda Masson.
“As far I know, no,” answered clerk Mark Zschack.
Rose floated the possibility of putting the project temporarily on hold, bid still approved, if council members were uncertain whether to proceed. “Well you could ban it for a year or two.”
“Is it possible to get quotes from other companies, or would it take too long?” inquired Sal Lagattuta. “I don’t know whether this is a good price or not.”
Rose assured Lagattuta other quotes could be obtained, with time, but that the real question at stake was “does the Water Sewer department want to absorb a $1 to 2 million project?”
Members of the council appeared enthusiastic to sustain the project’s momentum regardless of its price.
“I think it should be done. I mean how often are we going to be running a highway through a town like this,” said Marina Krynicky.
Councilman Robert LaBar agreed. “I don’t want to see this town, 10 years from now, say ‘oh I don’t know why we didn’t put those sewer lines in,' the revenue that will be generated will probably help detract the costs.”
“I agree, we need to move forward on this, in some form, in some way,” said Edward Meyer.
“I think I have the flavor of the council at this point,” said Zschack.
“All that’s happened is you’ve given direction to the administer [clerk Zschack] to solicit further cost estimates,” borough attorney John Ursin confirmed as a final takeaway from the evening’s discussions.
In business unrelated to the Route 23 realignment initiative, Sussex Borough’s 2013 dog census is complete, with 249 registered dogs so far [pending the final report], up from 218 in 2012.
"We’re well ahead of last year’s rate,” said Zschack. “We’re hoping to add at least another 100 plus to the number right now.”
The council also carried a motion allowing Sussex Borough to sell water wholesale at a rate of $.0008 per gallon; a competitive market price with respect to surrounding districts. The agreement is equivalent to last year, with the exception that now current water customers are excluded from the deal. This particular aspect of the ordinance irked Ms. Masson, as she worried town citizens might wish to purchase water to refill their pools or power wash their houses. “I just don’t like that this isn’t open for residents,” Masson said.
“There’s no restriction on the number of times you can fill a swimming pool under the ordinance,” commented Ursin.
“That’s interesting,” said Masson. The council voted to pass the motion to sell water on the private sector.
A resolution in agreement with Vernon Township was enacted to appoint Darren Maloney, acting CMFO, as the Chief Financial Officer for year 2013, to commence on April 9. Council members unanimously adopted an ordinance to exceed the 2013 municipal budget appropriation limits as they stand currently, and to establish a cap bank.
Rose is now also authorized by the council to initiate a formal “Equipment License Agreement” with High Point Soccer Club over shared usage of two portable generators for Sussex events and emergency situations; an ordinance brought on after the town borrowed High Point’s generators to restore power during the outages of Hurricane Sandy.
“They were a major help to us during the last storm,” said Rose. “The soccer team gets first dibs, but they’re not playing soccer when there’s hurricanes.”
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