By Ron Leir
It’s almost ready.
The partly restored South Kearny Police/Fire Station at 82 John Miller Way should be operational by mid-June, according to Town Administrator Michael Martello.
“We’ve got the sewer and water lines in,” town Public Works Supervisor Joseph Porcile told a visitor to the facility two weeks ago. “Now we’re just waiting for Public Service [Electric & Gas] to install two poles for us [for power].”
Establishing a permanent public safety encampment in the town’s industrial area near the Jersey City border has been a trying predicament for Kearny.
In the mid-1990s, the town acquired the Miller Way property as a combination mini-police precinct and fire station – part of it built on pilings in the low-lying marsh area – but, as Mayor Alberto Santos recalled, “after a number of years, we noticed cracks in the walls and ceilings – and movement [in the floor slab] – in the non-piled section of the building” following land settlement.
“It was evident that that part of the building was sinking and, five years ago, the building was declared unsafe and vacated,” Santos said.
Kearny sued the architect for damages and relocated the cops and firefighters to a rented space in a nearby warehouse on Hackensack Ave.
In Feb. 2009, the town was subsequently awarded a judgment of more than $900,000, including interest, but the architect challenged the verdict, reasoning that other participants in the project, such as the structural engineer and the town’s soils engineer (which, as the appellate court noted, wasn’t asked to review the final plans), should share in the liabilities. In May 2011, the state Appellate Court ruled the architect should get a new hearing and the State Supreme Court agreed to take up the case. An opinion is anticipated soon.
Meanwhile, Kearny had to abandon the Hackensack Ave. space last year after Hurricane Sandy flooded the space. The firefighters were sent to temporary quarters in a Jersey City firehouse in the city’s West Side area with quick access to Rts. 1&9 and the cops went to Kearny Police Headquarters on Laurel Ave.
Recently, the firefighters were relocated, again, this time to Kearny Fire Headquarters on Midland Ave.
Now, the town is refocused on a $375,000 temporary fix of the Miller Way facility. To that end, in March, it arranged for the installation of two trailers – together, 42 feet wide by 105 feet long – leased from William Scotsman, Inc. of Kearny, inside that portion of the building supported by pilings to accommodate offices, kitchen and common area for the occupants and living quarters for a fire captain and up to three firefighters.
The general contractor, Sharples Construction of Kearny, build a fire-rated sheetrock wall, 42 feet wide by 22 feet long, to separate the trailer space from the two fire rigs, an engine and foam truck, that will be housed in this part of the building.
Other work items still to be completed include installation of countertops for sinks, cutting through a side wall to create a second means of egress from the trailers and cutting in a window for the entrance to the makeshift police precinct.
Elstar Electric and Arlington Plumbing, both of Kearny, are sub-contractors on the project.
“It’s about eight miles from uptown Kearny to South Kearny so you need a public safety presence there,” Santos said.