A Livingston Council member’s plea to nix a $2 million township bond now sitting in legislative limbo fell on deaf ears Monday while the council continues to debate whether or not to use that money to build a new public works garage.
Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro proposed to withdraw the first reading of a $2 million bond ordinance for the purchasing a property for a new township garage on Okner Parkway at Monday’s council conference. Shapiro cited innumerable concerns voiced to her by residents about the issue, and added the council was “premature” in introducing the ordinance before it had a clear plan.
“I am violently opposed, violently opposed to keeping this just hanging out there,” said Shapiro. “I think it should be voted down and then at the point we come to some sort of decision about what we actually want to do, then we move forward."
While Shapiro’s proposal did not come to an official vote before the council, Deputy Mayor Michael Reiber was the only council member to voice any support for it.
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The property is located at 60, 66, 70 and 78 Okner Parkway. With a $1.9 million price tag for the property, the council is proposing to build a potential a $9-million public works garage there, said the council.
But significant questions about the garage remain unanswered, such as what sort of building the township wants to construct, and whether the garage should even move to Okner Parkway or stay at its current location.
The Okner Parkway property is now for sale on the open market, said Mayor Rudy Fernandez, and keeping the first reading of the $2 million ordinance on the table will allow the council to quickly acquire it if the council chooses to do so.
“The reason we moved forward with this is because it is a piece of property that may not be around so … if we wanted to do this [build a new public works garage] we will have the property to do it,” said Fernandez.
Township Manager Michele Meade added that scrapping the $2 million bond ordinance could send the wrong signal to the property owner.
"The potential is high that there needs to be investment in the current property if you are not going to go elsewhere," said Meade. "So a decision needs to be made one way or the other."
Since the council became publicly interested in the property, local developers have come out and chided the council and mayor for allegedly interrupting their own plans to acquire the site.
Shapiro was also the only council member to vote against the bond ordinance when it was introduced in August on the grounds that the township was interfering with a private buyer who was interested in the property.
The $2 million bond ordinance was introduced last month and remains in limbo until the council places it on the agenda for a second vote. If the council does not take action on the bond issue by the end of the year, it will automatically die and need to be reintroduced in 2014.
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.
Read previous articles about the department of public works garage below:$2M Bond May Get Public Works A New Garage
Fate of Public Works Building Put on Hold
Developer Alleges Mayor, Township Manager Interfered With Private Property Sale for Sports Complex