Joseph F. Berenato
Council discusses infrastructure
Projects talked about Jan. 25
HAMMONTON—Several infrastructure projects were discussed at the regular meeting of town council held at 7 p.m. on January 25 via Zoom teleconferencing software.
While presenting the report for the Water and Sewer Committee, Councilman Steven Furgione gave an update on the work scheduled to commence at the Fourth Street water tower.
“We’re still on track for some time in February for installation, assuming all of the equipment gets here. I don’t have any firm dates yet, but I’ll keep everyone up to speed with that. If, for some reason, we do construction prior to the next February meeting, we’ll note this on Channel 9 and keep everyone updated as the process continues,” Furgione said.
Furgione also discussed upgrades to the sewer plant. One such project at the plant regards reconstruction of the clarifiers, which Furgione said are “the holding tanks for our material before it gets into the plant.”
“The first one has been completely reconstructed; we did that a couple of years ago. This one here doesn’t need as much. We’re going to do this early spring. It involves emptying it, cleaning it. There’s some concrete work that needs to be done, and then painting it with a new epoxy paint inside of the tank. The aerator shaft, the pumps, the bearings have already been replaced, so this is the last thing and that’ll take care of both clarifiers outside,” Furgione said.
Furgione also said that he had originally intended to be able to award a contract for work on the centrifuge at the sewer plant, but that the contract had to be delayed for 30 days. Business Administrator Frank Zuber explained further.
“In the first 30 days of the year, you can only put in 26.25 percent of your budget, and, with the centrifuge, we don’t have the money in the budget right now. Because of the law, we can’t do that. So, once February comes, we can add to our temporary budget, then we can proceed with the bid process. It’s state law,” Zuber said.
Instead, Furgione asked for a motion to send a letter to the vendor requesting an extension.
“The bid opening was in December; that’ll give us enough time to get our financing in line, and we can award in February. It’s not a motion to approve a vendor; it’s just a motion to ask for a 30-day extension, and they’ll hold the price for the centrifuge,” Furgione said.
The motion was approved.
During his report, Public Works Manager Robert Vettese also updated council on several infrastructure projects, including the exploratory study regarding the feasibility of instituting a stormwater utility in Hammonton.
“We had a kickoff meeting with the PWTC (Public Works and Transportation Committee) and Princeton Hydro last Thursday. We’re waiting for those meeting minutes to come back, and that’ll set a schedule on what other meetings have to be set up and what work they’re proposing for that evaluation process,” Vettese said.
Vettese also said that work is proceeding apace with regards to a proposed electric vehicle charging station.
“We’ve completed an application, submitted that to N.J. DEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) on January 19, so we’re waiting to hear information back on that. We applied for $17,500 for a grant for the installation of an electrical vehicle charging station with two ports, and it would occupy two spaces on the Vine Street parking lot across from town hall,” he said.
Vettese said that town solicitor Michael Malinsky has been working on an agreement with Atlantic County regarding the intersection of Vine Street, Third Street and Central Avenue in preparation for the return of the town clock.
“We also had applied to the county for placement of planters on the triangle, or a portion of that, and we had a question related to the county, asking them to give us their requirements for sight triangles. We want to make sure that the planters that are installed are in a location that does not interfere with any sight triangles on the clock and town lot,” Vettese said.
Regarding other road work throughout Hammonton, Vettese said that the 2020 Roads Program is “basically completed.”
“There’s only some things he’s got to come back to in the spring to reestablish some grass that has not germinated. We’re going to try to close out the project in February, and ask for the maintenance bond for that work,” Vettese said.
Vettese said that Public Works Department Head Scott Rivera has provided a list of roadways for possible consideration for the 2021 Roads Program.
“We’re going to go through those with Scott and with the chairman of the PWTC, and hopefully we can get that list together and finalize it, and maybe even start the program earlier this year so we can see what the estimates are and establish the bond for this year to complete the roadways. We’ll probably do a combination of what we did last year, and, talking with the PWTC, some of the money will be spent on roadway reconstruction, and there are other sections where the roadways warrant resurfacing—or microsurfacing—we’re going to try those on some additional roadways this year,” Vettese said.
Sam Rodio, the PWTC chair, explained further.
“The microsurfacing, we did three roads last year, and all three, in my opinion, came out really well. That’s part of where we want to go. We got a lot more roadway done with that than we could with mill and overlay. I think every one we did—Golden Eagle Drive, Gatto Road, which is a long stretch, and Sindoni Lane—I rode them all. They seemed to come up pretty well, when you can get a road before it gets too far gone, there’s a lot of dollars that can be saved for the town. I know we want to look at that really well,” Rodio said.
Rodio said that Mayor Stephen DiDonato has already provided authorization for work to commence on two roadways.
“He has instructed ARH (Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates) to start to look at finishing Valley Avenue, which would be from Broadway to Central, and also Vine Street and Schoolhouse Lane, from Third Street to Bellevue. They’re two of the first ones we want to really try to kick off early this summer and get started on them. I really like to be sure that Schoolhouse and Vine Street get done; it’s a long time coming, and I think it’d be really a great improvement there for that part of the downtown,” Rodio said.
Vettese also said that the town has been in contact with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (N.J. DOT) regarding information the town submitted for the Safe Routes to Schools program.
“They asked for a couple different corrections; that was resubmitted back to them, so we’re waiting for their final approval for all the documents that we’re providing, and we’re still waiting for the agreement that was forwarded back to them in November for that to be signed by the proper N.J. DOT officials. Once that’s signed, we’ll need the mayor and the clerk to sign that information. We can set it up in a budget, then we can award the contract for GPI (Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.) to start that work on the footpath on Fourth Street, North Street, Walnut Street and Old Forks Road,” Vettese said.
During the town engineer’s report, David Cella presented an action item (ARH No. 11-40052) pertaining to work being done on the proposed Hammonton Bike Path Connector.
According to the language presented in the agenda, the project is currently on hold “due in part due to winter weather. Previously there was discussion about extending and upgrading the fence that is being installed as part of the project. We have worked on a revised detail and obtained a price from the contractor for an upgraded fence. Action requested this evening is to authorize a change order to allow for the fence to be upgraded. Project on hold pending contractor mobilization and winter weather.”
During the meeting, Cella explained further.
“In past PWTC meetings, we had had some conversation of some issues with the adjacent property owner. The solicitor’s office—Mr. Malinsky—and the property owner have been in discussion about some issues; in particular, it was about access and property lines. I believe we’ve resolved those issues at this point. Where we are right now is, we had some fence proposed on the plan—I want to say about 500 foot of fence—and it was split-rail fence; it was a lower, three-foot high post fence. What we’ve done, as part of the discussion with property owner, is we’ve talked about putting in a higher fence,” Cella said.
Cella said that he was seeking to have authorization on a change order in an amount not to exceed $14,000 to Landberg Construction, LLC.
“The fence that we are looking to put in now, I believe, is five feet high, and it is a vinyl fence. We’d be putting that in along the entire length of the property. Instead of 500 feet, it’ll be up to 900 feet. The value of that change order is $14,000 ... That represents, I believe, something in the range of five percent of the original contract,” Cella said.
Rodio inquired as to the materials, stating that previous discussions indicated that the fence would be made of wood.
“The issue, we had asked for wooden post and rail, and we could not get that in stock. The next closest thing was the vinyl post and rail,” Cella said.
The item was approved.
Furgione inquired as to other work being performed for the project.
“Once we get this cleared up, are they going to continue clearing? Is that the plan, or are we going to wait until spring?” Furgione said.
Cella responded in the affirmative.
“That is the plan. They can’t do the paving, really, until the weather breaks, but there is work that they can get in there and start doing. I believe the contractor would like to get in and get the clearing done. I think there’s a retaining wall and some stormwater work that needs to be done, so I think they want to get in and start doing that work,” Cella said.
During his report, Cella also presented ARH No. 11-20185, release of a performance bond for KMD Construction.
“The developer, who happens to be the mayor, I believe will be recused from voting,” Cella said.
“The mayor is recusing on this, yes,” DiDonato said.
According to the language of the item presented in the agenda, “the developer of the KMD – Walnut Street Project has requested release of their bonds. It should be noted the developer did not transition the project from performance to maintenance bond. At present the project has been substantially complete and the performance bond has been in place well beyond the two-year maintenance bond period. It is recommended to release the developer’s bond. It should be noted our files show the last bond reduction was made in 2009 and is valued at $125,385. This represents 30 percent of the original bond value.”
Cella explained further.
“The last time we showed any action on the project is over five years. The last time the bond was reduced on this was back in 2009. We did take a ride out—the Quality of Life Committee also took a ride out—looked at the development to see if everything was in accordance with the plan. Everything appears to be, and we do recommend release of the performance bond. We’re beyond the maintenance period, so we do not believe it necessitates maintenance at this point, since it’s carried well over five years at this point. The action this evening that we are requesting is to authorize the release of the performance bond for the Walnut Street Project, conditioned upon payment of any outstanding fees,” Cella said.
Councilman Jonathan Oliva, the chair of the Quality of Life Committee, confirmed Cella’s assessment.
“The Quality of Life Committee, comprised of Councilman Giralo, Dave Cella and myself took a ride out there to confirm that everything was in tip-top shape before we made this recommendation this evening,” Oliva said.
Cella later told The Gazette that, although there had been no activity with the project in a number of years, a release request had never before been submitted.
“The developer didn’t ask until now,” Cella said.
DiDonato explained the reasoning to The Gazette.
“I had a Walnut Street subdivision for improvements; I had to put a bond up ... The improvements happened in ’08, 2010, so it’s been about 10 years since the improvements were done. It just took this long to sell all the lots. It was a long project because of the economy. That’s something you do after you sell all the lots,” DiDonato said.
The item was approved.
The next meeting of town council is scheduled to be held on February 22 at 7 p.m.