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New Providence Again Jilted by Lack of Liquor License Suitors

Mike Neavill

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 • 2:23pm

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – For the second year in a row, borough officials were left standing at the altar with no prospective bidders stepping forward to claim a plenary retail liquor consumption license.
 
Prospective licensees had until Nov. 12 to file followed by a published list of pre-qualified bidders on Nov. 25. Final bids are due Dec. 16.
 
In response to a question during the public comment session, Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson said no bidders had stepped forward by the required date.
 
Robinson offered that the minimum acceptable bid of $400,000 might be too high or there may be a lack of a suitable downtown location for a restaurant.
 
Mayor J. Brooke Hern said the borough is looking to use the liquor license as an economic development tool to enhance the downtown business community.
 
Hern added there is no sense of urgency. “We are not desperate. It will be done in a way members of our community expect it to be done,” Hern said.
 
Borough Administrator Doug Marvin told The Alternative Press that the Borough Council will meet soon to discuss a future course of action.
 
Marvin highlighted three major areas the council might explore including a price reduction, a lessening of some restrictions detailed in the existing ordinance and the availability of downtown locations for a restaurant.
 
“I’m not sure which of these components, if any, have prevented potential licensees from moving forward,” Marvin said.
 
During the meeting, Marvin alerted council members that the re-paving projects for Central Avenue and Oakwood Drive were in jeopardy of being completed this year.
 
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” Marvin said as he explained that the delay is a result of the state DOJ, which provided a $200,000 grant for the projects, has raised questions concerning the recently installed sidewalks and handicap ramps in preparation for the re-paving of Central Avenue.
 
Marvin said the borough used its membership in the Morris County Co-op Group to have the recent installations performed at a significant savings but may be in violation of DOJ guidelines.
 
The administrator expressed dim hope that the Oakwood Drive project could be completed by year’s end, but ruled out a quick resolution of the Central Avenue project.
 
The Borough Council also took time to honor a former mayor. On the far left wall of the entrance to the Municipal Center are photographs of the borough’s former mayors. However, there is one glaring exception which was remedied at Monday’s (Dec. 2) Borough Council meeting.
 
Don LeBart, son of former mayor Frank LeBart, who served during the early 1960s during a time of explosive growth, presented the council with a photograph of his father to be included on the wall.
 
LeBart said that his father’s major achievements included the development of the borough’s first five-year master plan, the community pool project and strong initiatives for land conservation. Mayor LeBart died at the age of 84 in 2009.
 
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