SOMERVILLE, NJ – Plans for Somerville’s new emergency services complex on North Gaston Avenue are taking final shape, according to Mayor Dennis Sullivan.
The borough has been working for 21 months with FD Stonewater – a Virigina design and financing firm specializing in government buildings – on specifications, design and costs, according to Colin Driver, director of economic development for the borough.
The borough is expected to conclude construction and financing agreements with Stonewater this summer to design and build the structure that will house the police department and consolidate the fire department.
Both entities currently occupy outdated and inefficient facilities across town, Sullivan says
“Public safety is a top priority for any community,” said Sullivan. “This is the biggest and most important public project Somerville has undertaken since the school opened in 1970.”
City councilor Granville Brady, chairman of the borough finance committee, continued: “We are explore a lease-purchase agreement with Stonewater that will allow the construction of the project quickly without adding long-term debt to our municipal budget.
“Revenues from current and future PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) sources will cover the annual costs of the complex, so there should not be a dramatic increase in taxes over the term of the lease, at the end of the day. end of which the borough will assume ownership of the site, ”he added.
The PILOTE agreements between the borough and the developers of several apartment complexes signed in recent years provide the city with reduced income for more than 20 to 25 years before moving on to the regular payment of taxes. Robert Wood Johnson / Somerset University Hospital also pays the Borough $ 300,000 per year in lieu of taxes; as a non-profit entity, the hospital is tax exempt.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Sullivan said. “It was years in the making, and in end our first responders will have a house at the cutting edge of technology that will serve Somerville for the next 50 years. The good people of Somerville deserve no less than the best possible protection to bring.”
Sullivan hopes the installation of emergency services will be completed by 2024.
Last month, an excavator tore up a two-story, two-story residence on East Cliff Street, the last structure to be demolished in preparation for the construction of the new facility.
Three abandoned buildings on the 1.77-acre site of the Somerville Public Safety Complex, at the intersection of Gaston Avenue and East Cliff Street, were demolished in October 2019, including the old building of the bakery on avenue Gaston.
The property along Gaston Avenue was purchased by the Borough in 2018 for $ 1.3 million, according to Borough Clerk / Administrator Kevin Sluka.
A two-storey building will be erected on the site, according to preliminary plans. The first floor would include bays for the borough’s four fire trucks and a secure entrance for the police department, which would be located on the second floor.
The planned facility will consolidate the borough’s 4 fire companies, now scattered over three sites in the 2.5 square mile borough, according to Sluka.
There are problems with some of the borough’s emergency services buildings, according to borough officials and firefighters. Engine Company # 1 is located in a flood-prone area, and the rarely used back door of West End Hose Company, which shares its building with Central Hook & Ladder, opens into Borough parking lot # 2. The main gate opens onto West High Street.
A Division Street fire station built in the late 1800s was taken out of service a few years ago; West End Hose Company and Central Hook & Ladder Company share the building on West High Street; Lincoln Hose Company is located on Warren Street; Engine Company No. 1 is at the corner of East Main and Veterans Memorial Drive East; the first aid and rescue squad is on Park Avenue, within walking distance of the No. 1 engine company and the police headquarters is located at 24 So. St.