Only bidder will fix firehouse


It was the lone bid submitted but the town went with it.

At long last, Kearny will, presumably, get to see its shaky Davis Ave. firehouse fixed – some seven months after the town construction office ordered it shut as unsafe.

That will happen because, at a special meeting Dec. 20, the municipal governing body voted to award a repair contract to George Koustas Painting & Construction LLC of West Long Branch for $347,000.

And that price fell within the parameters of the town’s preliminary estimate of what the job should cost, according to town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that the company “has done work for other government entities in New Jersey and New York” and that its “references came back as very good.”

“We’re hoping the work will start [this month],” he added.

Fire Chief Steven Dyl said last week he expected to schedule a pre-construction meeting with the contractor shortly to learn how soon he will be available to begin the job.

Dyl said the contract specifications call for repairs to the roof of the 115-year-old building – the No. 1 priority – to be completed within 60 days, once work begins.

“After that,” the chief said, “the other stuff should be able to be done after we occupy the building.”

Its complement of 16 firefighters and the engine assigned to the 3,000-square foot Station 1 facility have been temporarily relocated to fire headquarters (on Midland Ave.) during the shutdown.

The building was ordered closed May 27, one day after workers from Bower & Co. roofing who were replacing gutters on the firehouse discovered that a portion of the wooden plate just below the roofline was bulging out on the Devon Terrace side.

As Dyl explained at the time, the building’s construction in 1901 did not include “collar ties,” whose absence resulted in the roof joists pushing the plates out of alignment.

Other parts of the job to be done, once the roof is secured, include restoring the facia board below the roof line, fixing drainage systems, leaders and gutters, to properly route water around the building, repointing of brick in the rear of the building and repair the floor in the section not occupied by the engine, Dyl said.

In other business, the mayor and council approved a total of $970,466 in emergency appropriations to the 2016 municipal budget, all of which must be provided in the 2017 budget.

These items included: $365,000 in police overtime and $110,000 in firefighter overtime, all of which was incurred before each department was beefed up with new hirings; $175,000 in Fire Department operating expenses for vehicle repairs and for Academy training for new hires; $300,000 in water utility operating expenses for water main repairs exceeding the amount budgeted and prior to the utility’s takeover by Suez Water; and $20,466 for the Consolidated Police/Fire Retirement Fund, as explained by Santos and Firozvi.

By itself, Firozvi said, the emergency appropriation total to be carried over to 2017 accounts for 2.3% of the current $41.6 million municipal levy, but that added expense should be more than offset by what Santos characterized as a $2 million drop in 2017 municipal debt service.

And, in development-related matters, the governing body cleared the way for the town Zoning Board of Adjustment to review plans by 1416 Harrison LLC to build a three-story, six-unit residential structure at Harrison Ave. and Ann St. in the Schuyler Ave. Redevelopment Area to replace a former bar/restaurant previously destroyed by fire. However, the council stipulated that the firm’s designation as redeveloper can be withdrawn “if the owner has not commenced construction of the improvements by Nov. 30, 2017, or is not diligently pursuing completion of construction thereafter.”

But the council tabled to its February meeting consideration of a plan by Ridge Crossing LLC for a 112-unit, five-story/49-foot-tall apartment building at 682-686 Schuyler Ave. off Laurel Ave.

The project would involve granting the developer a waiver from a town height restriction limiting such buildings in this redevelopment area to no more than four stories/45 feet.

Santos said the governing body had concerns about the project “encroaching on neighboring properties and the impact of that encroachment on storm drainage.”

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