BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Recent resolutions approved by the Bridgewater Township Council will enable roadway repairs, parking construction, legal advice, plenary licenses and temporary budget appropriations, among other items.
The council first ratified a resolution to authorize tax collector Darrow Murdock to conduct an electronic tax sale. Township administrator Michael Pappas said the event had occurred the last few years, and that many municipalities were now doing the same, especially in light of COVID-19.
The council also approved a resolution for a shared services agreement between Somerset County and Bridgewater for the milling, resurfacing and re-striping of various streets. The maximum financial amount for the agreement was $919,969.
The roads to be done include Beach Avenue (Pine Street to Old York Road); Cross Road (Route 202 to Downey Road); Donald Drive (Thruway Drive to Thruway Drive); John Christian Drive (Ron Court to Garretson Road); Ron Court (John Christian Drive to End); Voorhees Lane (Garretson Road to Municipal Right Of Way past Stryker Court); and Wight Street (North Bridge Street to Hillside Avenue).
Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench said this program with the county has been a successful one for the township, and will continue to be used to fund certain road projects in the town.
“It’s cost effective to do it,” said Moench.
He also mentioned that with the county, there is no direct control by the township as to when said projects will be completed.
“The county controls the timing,” he said.
Council president Howard Norgalis said the agreement is also constrained by the county on the financial amount, which is not as high this year.
The governing body then awarded a contract for the first two phases of the Twin Oaks Road Improvement Project to Capital Paving and Contracting, LLC, out of Lebanon in the sum of $1,086,746. The projects will be funded through the township’s 2017 capital fund, and also involved acceptance of the request for the withdrawal of the bid that had been submitted for the same project by ADG Contracting, Inc.
The first phase of the project will involve Twin Oaks Road from Foothill Road to Morningside Drive. The second phase will be Twin Oaks Road from Morningside Drive to Steele Gap Road and Steele Gap Road from Town Oaks Road to Newmans Lane.
“A lot of people have been waiting on this,” said Norgalis.
Also awarded was a contract for the Chimney Rock Park proposed parking lot to Pave-Rite out of Bridgewater, for $206,442, which will be funded through the 2019 capital fund. Moench said the project will involve the removal of an existing skate park and then the insertion of additional parking.
“The parking situation is not very good now,” he said.
He also said the goal is to remove current parking hazards by getting vehicles off the road. The new parking will be a gravel lot, and will consist of about 75 spaces.
Additional parking is “absolutely needed,” added councilman Michael Kirsh.
The council also authorized the retention of attorney William K. Mosca, Jr., of the legal firm Bevan, Mosca and Giuditta, out of Basking Ridge, to serve as special legal counsel for not more than $24,532. Mosca is to provide the township with “review, advice and counsel” as related to the petition of New Jersey American Water Company, Inc., to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to increase base tariff charges and rates.
Moench explained there had been a petition to increase sewer rates by 12.3 percent, or an extra $100 annually. He said nine townships have subsequently banded together, spearheaded by Bedminster Township, to work to lower the amount.
“Twelve percent is not reasonable, in our opinion,” said Moench.
He added that Bridgewater had had a “seat at the table” in designing the resolution, to save residents money, outside of the budget.
“Something needed to be considered,” he said.
He also said that other townships have been recruited to lower the costs of litigation, while Kirsh said that water usage is part of the total cost of ownership to live in Bridgewater.
The council passed several additional resolutions June 15, along with COVID-19 expansion permits/plenary retail consumption licenses as part of a consent agenda for eight establishments in the area. They included Top O’The Hill Tavern; Somerville Lodge of Elks Post 1068; Chimney Rock Inn; Martinsville Tavern; Buffalo Wild Wings and Bar Grill; 22 West Tap and Grill, LLC; Hop Bridgewater, LLC; and Seasons 52.
The council also tabled the execution of an agreement with the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 2020 recycling in the amount of $408,501. Councilman Timothy Ring said he had some concerns with the agreement, which he added was the same as last year, with the rate adjusted.
He added that the new dual stream recycling buckets actually violate the agreement that is under consideration, and that the county needs to make an update.
Kirsh asked if the resolution was time-sensitive to approve. Pappas said he had spoken with Director of Health and Human Services Christine Madrid, and Madrid said there was no urgency with what amounted to a pro forma agreement.
She said a pending invoice couldn't be paid without a resolution, but that the township could go back and speak to the county about the changing state of recycling.
“I don’t think we’re in any legal danger,” said Madrid. “It’s the will of the council.”
Councilman Allen Kurdyla said he believes the cost won’t be any different, while Norgalis said there have been no complaints so far, and that the township gets money back per tonnage. Ring made a motion to table the resolution, which was granted by a 3-2 vote.
Also unanimously ratified was a measure that supports the New Jersey Department of Transportation Route 202/206 Bridge, 160 feet south of Stella Drive, over a branch of Peters Brook. Pappas cited a memo from the acting township engineer that a bridge re-evaluation survey report from 2016 mentioned “some structural deficiencies” in the substructure of the bridge.
Traffic will still move in both directions, and Pappas added that the resolution was a notification that the council knew what was going on “and is supportive.”
Following a closed session of about an hour to discuss legal and personnel matters, the council returned to unanimously approve the execution of an agreement for health services from May 15 through December 31 of this year with the Middlebrook Regional Health Commission out of Green Brook, up to a maximum amount of $54,375.