A month after $2 million was bonded on first reading to give the Department of Public Works a new home, the Livingston Council was not ready to make any decisive decisions about the building’s fate.
The council and mayor agreed Tuesday that they will need more information about what should be done with the antiquated public works building before any action is taken.
"It’s not a question of whether something needs to be done," said Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro, "but we need to make sure we are doing it wisely.
“We seem to have jumped over six steps before we got to this point because we really don’t know … what it is we are actually going to spend [money] on, how big of a building we want to have, what our alternatives are ...."
The council will seek the recommendations of Superintendent of Public Works Michael Anell and the architect who designed a concept plan for a new building at an upcoming council meeting.
The upcoming meeting, said Mayor Rudy Fernandez, will help the township “figure out what we need. … I don’t think we are qualified to say what DPW needs, but we need to hear it and then we can discuss that.”
There are three options before the council regarding what to do with the public works building: renovate the existing building at 357 S. Livingston Ave.; raze the facility and rebuild; or move the garage to a new location.
There are myriad problems not only with the current building, but the location itself.
The building and garage are too small to adequately house all the equipment and vehicles under the care of the department. In addition, the building has become overcrowded as various departments have been relocated there over the years, such as the Parks and Recreations, Building and Water departments.
The property is also prone to flooding, which is liable to paralyze the entire department — include the township's fleet trucks and other machinery — during an emergency.
Township engineer Rich Calbi, who discussed the township’s options at Tuesday’s meeting, said the building is inadequate for the current needs of the township. In the past, he has recommended that a new location be found for the public works building.
“It is old and beyond repair,” said Calbi.
At the council’s July 29 meeting, it approved the first reading of an ordinance to bond $2,040,000 to potentially move the public works building to Okner Parkway — a little used roadway in the northwest corner of town.
The $2 million bond will be tabled while the township deliberates on the future of the public works building.