• Joseph F. Berenato

Route 54 project’s start questioned


Councilman Joseph Giralo addressed the current condition of Route 54 at the regular meeting of town council. (THG/Kristin Guglietti. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Councilman Joseph Giralo addressed the current condition of Route 54 at the regular meeting of town council held at 7 p.m. on February 22 via Zoom teleconferencing software.


“It was on the state schedule to be done this year. Somehow, it’s moved to 2022, 2023. I travel it several times a day, as, I’m sure, all of you, and I’m wondering if it’s worth sending a resolution to our legislators to tell them. I don’t think we can wait that long, if you take a look at that road in the last week or two. Just my thought; it’s falling apart,” Giralo said.


Mayor Stephen DiDonato concurred.


“It took a pounding. It really took a pounding,” DiDonato said.


DiDonato informed Giralo that, should the latter put forth the appropriate motion, council would send the requested letter. Giralo obliged.


“I’d like to put that in the form of a motion to our legislators, to whoever will listen to us, that Bellevue Avenue cannot wait until the summer of 2022 or 2023. It’ll be a dirt road, believe me,” Giralo said.


Councilman Thomas Gribbin seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


Town Engineer David Cella, of Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates (ARH), highlighted several other roads projects during his report at that meeting.


One was for improvements to School House Lane (ARH Proposal No. 21-0059).


“We’ll be asking for action on our proposal for doing the survey field work, base plan preparation and design activities. We’re looking to redo the roadway and utilities from Third Street to Bellevue Avenue. The goal for that would be, with authorization tonight, to get that started and get underway so we’re in and out of there before next school year,” Cella said.


Cella then asked council to authorize the ARH proposal for design services in the amount of $32,500 for the School House Lane Improvements Project.


Councilman Sam Rodio put forth the appropriate motion.


“I’m really glad that this is really beginning there. It’s a road that I really think needs a lot of improvement. I’m glad we’re starting with that one this year,” Rodio said.


Councilman Steven Furgione seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


Regarding ARH No. 11-40058: NJDOT Local Aid FY 2020–14th Street Roadway Improvements, Phase III, Cella’s report noted that the contractor “previously started by installing initial traffic control measures. To date there has been little activity in part due to weather. The contractor intended to start on drainage work; however work is currently on hold ... pending contractor mobilization and winter weather.”


Cella noted that the Hammonton Bike Path Connector (ARH No. 11-40052) was similarly waiting.


“The 14th Street Project and the Bikeway project, both we’ve been waiting for weather, patiently. The weather will hopefully break soon. We do have a tentative start for 14th Street of March 1, so obviously, if the weather holds out, we’ll get going. With regards to the bike path, we do not have a date set yet, but I imagine it will happen shortly thereafter, if not simultaneously,” Cella said.


Cella’s report also contained the following items:


• Mazza Muffler Site/104 S. Egg Harbor Rd. (ARH No. 11-01102): The HDSRF grant application valued at approximately $31,000 has been submitted for a preliminary assessment and site investigation. Application is currently under review by NJDEP. An application has been prepared for submission to the Pinelands Commission for the demolition of the existing structure. Once permit fees are obtained, we will provide the application to the commission.


• K&K Linens Property/224 Vine St. (ARH No. 11-01094.01): As previously reported; the HDSRF grant application has been submitted and is under review by NJDEP. The grant request is pending NJDEP review. Since the last reporting period, the underground storage tank has been removed, and soil samples were taken in and around the excavated area. At present [the town is] waiting for lab results on the samples.


• Boyer Avenue Pump Station Design (ARH No. 11-50144): The alternatives analysis for the collection system and pump station location has been submitted to the Pinelands Commission. Once the Commission has reviewed and commented, we will be able to move forward with the required NJDEP Treatment Works Application. Pending Pinelands review. It should be noted, since the last reporting period Pinelands had a public comment hearing related to the alternatives analysis on February 12, 2021. ARH is currently are waiting for a letter to be issued by the Commission. Concurrently, an application has been prepared for submission to the Pinelands Commission for the demolition of the existing structure. Once permit fees are obtained, [ARH] will provide the application to the commission.


In related business, Public Works Manager Robert Vettese gave a final update regarding the 2020 Roads program.


“There’s a final payment invoice in for the contractor, and they did post the maintenance bond for that particular project,” Vettese said.


Vettese’s report also noted that the contractor “has completed the roadwork program ... There is some minor lawn restoration and seam sealing work that will be completed in the spring.”


There was also an informational item in Vettese’s report regarding the 2021 Roads program, noting that the Public Works Department would be meeting with Rodio—the Public Works and Transportation Committee chairperson—and Public Works Department Head Scott Rivera “to review possible roadway reconstruction and micro surfacing candidates for this year’s program.”


In other business, during the solicitor’s report, Michael Malinsky gave an update regarding space at Hammonton Municipal Airport which has been leased to the New Jersey State Police.


“I’m happy to report that mayor and council were successful in locking in the state police as a tenant at the airport into a long-term, 10-year lease with the option to extend that lease for two five-year options, for an additional 10 years. In total, it could be a 20-year lease with the state police,” Malinsky said.


Rodio noted that the lease requires the new tenant to be financially responsible for the fire suppression system which was recently installed and upgraded at the facility. Malinsky explained further.


“Not only will it be paid for in full, but with the rental payments that mayor and council were able to negotiate, the town actually comes out $120,000 surplus in the positive, over and above what the improvements cost the town by those lease payments,” Malinsky said.


Rodio noted that the state police are a “great tenant.”


“We need a lot of tenants like that,” Rodio said.


The next meeting of town council is scheduled to be held on March 22 at 7 p.m.