Issued late October 2000
Mayors Message -- October 2000
First, I wish to thank all who attended the three public forums concerning the location of the new municipal building and offered their opinions. These forums provided invaluable insight. As promised, we and our professional advisors are evaluating all of the comments received to determine if we overlooked anything in the original analysis that would qualify Hamilton Avenue as a more viable site.
During these forums, among the many ideas offered, one common thread emerged: that condemnation for the construction of a municipal building is not acceptable, either at the proposed Boulevard location or any other location in town. This common thread is precisely the reason that the more expansive plan"A", which proposed all municipal offices except the Fire Department to be located on the Boulevard, was tabled in favor of less intrusive alternatives. We recognize your expression on this matter as a mandate.
Furthermore, when there necessarily arises the very sensitive issue of displacing residents, even as the result of voluntary sales, we must consider it not only from a legal standpoint but also, more importantly, from a moral one. Thus your Mayor and Council recognizes this moral obligation and we pledge all of the resources reasonably available to us to the relocation of any resident that may be displaced. We also recognize this is a mandate.
The Building Committee continues to meet every week and receives continuous updates from our professionals. When all of the information concerning this project is available, it will be thoroughly analyzed so that an informed decision can be made that reflects the directions that you have given us.
Review Of Scenarios For Construction On Hamilton Avenue
As stated at the public forums, the idea of rebuilding back on Hamilton Avenue is not new. In fact, after the fire, we naturally looked at this concept first. It was not until we began the process of analyzing the loss and estimating the cost of the required code upgrades for the insurance claim that we recognized that the existing structure and the site was not suitable for reconstruction.
Preliminary estimates indicate that under each of these scenarios that follow the total cost will range form $400,000.00 to $950,000.00 more than Plan "B" and $950,000.00 to $1,450,000.00 more than plan "A". Nevertheless, we are not revisiting the Hamilton Avenue site to determine what scenarios would work and if these scenarios meet the criteria established while not requiring condemnation of properties.
Scenario 1 Rebuilding the Police Department, Municipal Court, Fire Department and Administrative Offices on Hamilton Avenue with one underground level of parking and a second underground level of basement storage.
The scenario would require a building with a footprint much larger than the structure currently on Hamilton Avenue, covering the court yard area and the east parking lot, with an underground parking area below the building. This proposal would require substantially stronger construction than any other proposal since the first floor, which must support the weight of the fire apparatus, would be built over a parking garage. It is estimated that the underground parking garage could provide up to 38 spaces which, when combined with the 15 spaces across Hamilton Avenue and 20 spaces in the west parking lot would leave the need for 19 additional spaces, based on the need for 92 parking spaces required for this facility. These parking spaces are absolutely essential since, in this scenario, there is no option for shared parking with the Library/Senior Center as there would be on the Boulevard. The additional 20 parking spaces would require the acquisition of property through condemnation of at least two properties.
Furthermore, since this scenario has a parking garage under the first floor, the basement would necessitate two levels of underground construction. The basement is essential for non-public uses such as locker rooms for the Police Department and the storage area for records.
Scenario 2 Rebuilding the Police Department, Municipal Court, Fire Department and Administrative Offices on Hamilton Avenue with parking to be provided on surface lots on the opposite side of Hamilton Avenue.
The scenario would require a two story building with a footprint much larger than the structure currently on Hamilton Avenue. It must cover both the court yard area and the east parking lot. In this scenario, there would be 15 spaces across Hamilton Avenue and 20 spaces in the west parking lot leaving the need for 57 additional spaces. In order to provide the required parking spaces the property across Hamilton Avenue currently occupied by the Franklin School gym and basketball court would have to be acquired, the building demolished, and parking lots constructed. Additionally, at least three other properties would have to be acquired through condemnation for the balance of the required parking. This scenario also eliminates one of the few recreation facilities available for the many recreation programs that use the Franklin Gym on a daily basis. To consider this scenario, we would be compelled to acquire even more land and construct a new recreation facility to replace the one that will be lost.
Scenario 3 Rebuilding the Police Department, Municipal Court, Fire Department and Administrative Offices on Hamilton Avenue with parking to be on surface lots located behind the Municipal Building on Walter Avenue.
This scenario would require a two story building with a footprint much larger than the structure currently on Hamilton Avenue. It, too, must cover the court yard area and the east parking lot. In this scenario, there would be 15 spaces across Hamilton Avenue and 20 spaces in the west parking lot leaving the need for 57 additional spaces, based on the need for 92 parking spaces required for this facility. In order to provide the required parking spaces, at least four properties behind the Municipal Building on Walter Avenue would have to be acquired through condemnation for the balance of the required parking. This scenario would create a facility that bridges two residential streets and obviously creates the largest expansion of a non-conforming use of any proposal to date.
Scenario 4 Rebuilding the Police Department, Municipal Court, Fire Department and Administrative Offices in the same structure and developing the court yard into office space. The solution to the parking would have to be the same as in Scenario 2 or 3 above.
This scenario would require rebuilding the existing structure with a two story addition in the court yard. The court yard has a foot print of approximately 2,100 square feet which means that a 2 story addition would provide a maximum of only 4,200 square feet of office space, far below the 8,000 additional square feet that is required. Incidentally, approximately 10 years ago a plan was developed for an addition in the court yard but it was abandoned since its area did not meet the needs of the Borough. In this scenario, there would be 15 spaces across Hamilton Avenue, 20 spaces in the west parking lot and 11 spaces in the east lot leaving the need for 44 additional spaces, based on the need for 92 parking spaces required for this facility. The additional 46 parking spaces would require the acquisition of property through condemnation of at least four properties.
All of this assumes that the building is suitable for reconstruction. There are serious doubts concerning the structural integrity of the floor slabs and walls. Furthermore, the configuration of the interior spaces cannot be substantially changed due to the fact that the complex is actually made up of three separate buildings. Based on the engineering and architectural studies prepared for use in settling the insurance claim, this approach appears to be the least cost effective.
Each of these scenarios, as well as the proposals already presented at the public forums, must be held to the same criteria as follows:
Please be absolutely assured that we have listened to all of your comments and are carefully considering them in the decisions making process. In addition to the above listed criteria, we must consider your mandate that condemnation for the construction of a municipal building is not acceptable. Please also keep in mind that we must also contend with the fact that portions of the Hamilton Avenue site are currently utilized buy the Police Department and Fire Department with the hope that neither would be displaced during any new construction. Relocating these departments is very difficult and expensive and the best case scenario would be for their next move to be into the new facility permanently.Mayor William J. Torre