Lumberton to fund $5 million capital project for public safety building
|By Todd McHale on December 28, 2016 for the Burlington County Times|
LUMBERTON — The Township Committee on Tuesday unanimously adopted an ordinance to appropriate $5 million for a new public safety center and for improvements to the firehouse property on Main Street.
The new station will house the Fire Department, Bureau of Fire Protection, EMS squad and Office of Emergency Management. The funds will also cover $500,000 in proposed improvements to the firehouse property, including demolition of the existing structures.
To proceed with the project, the township will make a $250,000 down payment and borrow $4.75 million to complete the work.
Meanwhile, officials continue to hammer out the details.
"We don't actually have the plans totally solidified yet. We’re working with Garrison Architects of Bellmawr on the design. We're still working on the bathrooms and some other things," Township Committeeman Mike Mansdoerfer said at Tuesday's meeting. "At some point when that happens, we need to bring that out to the public so the public can see it."
Resident Jeff Oddo said he's not opposed to the project but would have preferred to see more information put out before a vote to spend millions of dollars.
"I think there's more ways to engage the public, because I think if (residents) hear the needs, not just a listing on an agenda notice or published ordinance after it has been voted on, I think the public would support these things," Oddo said. "I think most people are reasonable and open-minded. But if you don't have this information to hear this whole story, I don't necessarily think the public support is going to be there."
He suggested automated calls to residents to alert them about any projects of this magnitude being discussed at committee meetings.
Mayor Sean Earlen said the municipality would look into issuing more information concerning future projects.
Mansdoerfer said the capital bond ordinance is just the first step in the process and needed to be done to secure the best rate available for financing.
"Just for reference, since the time we introduced this ordinance, interest rates went up a half a point, which is significant when you're talking about a project this size," he said.
To make room for the new facility, the former municipal complex was demolished in summer of 2015. The site had been vacant since 2000, when the township moved into its new headquarters nearby on Municipal Drive. aid.