5/27/22 - Dear Residents, I would like to explain some of the reasons I support the plan which was presented to move the Police Station to 95 Linwood Ave and provide a new permanent home for the DPW at town hall, also known as Option Two.
Since 2019, most of the Council members have recognized the need to bring township facilities up to date. They have proven a commitment to that goal by voting yes, almost unanimously, to Ordinances 19-17, 19-19, and 20-11.
Collectively, these ordinances provided over $8m of funding for town improvements such as the new Emergency Services Building, a new Fire Engine, and a new Ladder Truck. While those Councils and I may have disagreed on many things, it was one area we almost always agreed on. And as your mayor, I have successfully executed the projects which these Councils authorized.
Washington Township is moving in the right direction. We are correcting the conditions in town that were allowed to exist for far too long.
The Town Hall building was constructed in 1994. Prior to that, almost no one can recall any significant civic improvements in Washington Township since the 1950s and 60s. Our facilities truly dated back that long ago. Many longtime residents and those who grew up in town can confirm this.
We need to build a new DPW facility now. That is not an option. This department provides vital services that keep our town running and looking like the place we are proud to call home. They are the “fourth branch” of our emergency services. We live in an ever-changing world with ever-changing needs. Their role is no different. And they simply need more space to enable them to meet those needs for us and provide the additional services we request of them now and in the future. Some of the additional services they could offer with more space are expanded recycling programs for things such as electronics, cardboard and a metal drop off point. Waste oil could again be collected, and storage bins could be constructed for stone, topsoil, asphalt, and cold patch for quicker and better road and pothole repairs.
Our Police Department is operating out of a headquarters that was not designed to accommodate law enforcement in the 21st-century. Their current facility dates back to the 1950s with one minor renovation 25 years ago. There are essential physical upgrades that are just not practical in their current space and that would require massive reconstruction and a complete redesign of the existing space as well as a significant addition. The original plan was to address their upgrade in three to four years.
We are presented with an opportunity. An appropriate property (Charlie Brown’s) becoming available which will allow us to make a sensible investment in our town. As the DPW has the immediate need, it initially seemed like the right answer to the question of where to house their new facility (Option One). Four current Council members recognized the need for additional space and voted to acquire the property as the first step to make this happen. At the projected Bond Rates the cost per household will be a modest $22 per YEAR (not month) over 30 years for the property acquisition. That is $660 over the life of thirty-year Bond period!
After listening to our residents’ concerns regarding the placement of the DPW at this location, I, along with the Administrator and Architect, quickly explored the possibility of keeping the DPW at Town Hall and, instead, locating the Police Station at 95 Linwood Avenue (Option Two).
I now believe Option Two is the better choice. It is the most cost effective and represents a true value for our tax dollars. It addresses the concerns of our residents. It provides the necessary improvements we require now and will serve us well into the future. It gives our essential services the room and facilities they need. It removes an entire large department from the cramped space at 350 Hudson Ave, freeing up much-needed space at that location. I do not believe any surrounding or comparable municipality operates so many departments and services from such a small piece of property. It accelerates the upgrade of the Police Station, but we knew that upgrade was only a few short years away and doing it now at 95 Linwood Ave is the more fiscally responsible choice.
We can accomplish all those goals and do this right for the never increasing difference of $80 per household per YEAR (not month) or $2400 per household over the life of the 30-year Bond. For that price difference, our paid departments can operate and service our community from industry standard facilities like what our volunteers in the fire department and ambulance corps will soon have.
The single concern that has been brought to my attention regarding Option Two is - will the new location delay response times? The answer to that question is NO! I have spoken with our Police Chief and Police professionals. They have assured me that response times will not suffer, and they would never support a plan that would compromise public safety in any way. The patrol officers are assigned specific areas of the town to cover and that will not change. Those patrol officers will still be your first responders and be responding from their respective patrol areas as they do now.
I remain committed to our common goal of moving Washington Township forward in prudent and fiscally responsible ways. And consistent with that commitment, I believe Option Two can go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.
Mayor Peter Calamari
, and 20-11