Borough Council Tackles Downtown Redevelopment and Infrastructure

In a recent Bernardsville Borough Council meeting, discussions centered on the comprehensive redevelopment of the downtown area, including the Audi property, and a significant infrastructure project involving the installation of lights at the Polo Grounds. The council also addressed the potential sale of the sewer plant, property acquisitions for open space, and updates to police regulations and affordable housing policies.

The council members engaged in an extended debate over the future of the downtown corridor, weighing the merits of a broad redevelopment study against addressing individual properties. The designation of the entire downtown area as a redevelopment zone, with special attention to the Audi property, the train station, and Quinby, was a significant topic. The potential impact of such a designation on zoning and planning was thoroughly considered, as was the role of the planner in conducting an in-depth study estimated at $177,000.

In parallel to this, the council deliberated on the Housing Advisory Committee’s function, contemplating its dissolution and the redistribution of its responsibilities, primarily due to concerns over conflicts with the zoning office. The upcoming presentation regarding the sale of the sewer plant was also highlighted, with the council stressing the importance of guaranteeing job offers for current employees in the event of a sale. This matter would require a comprehensive process, including a public referendum, to move forward.

Another agenda item was the proposal to enhance lighting at the Polo Grounds. The plans presented outlined the phased installation of lights, with the initial phase estimated to cost $1.5 million. Concerns about the impact on residents and the need for community involvement were discussed, alongside the financial aspects of the project, such as utilizing the open space trust fund and navigating Green Acres approval. The possibility of expanding cell phone coverage using the lighting infrastructure was mentioned, although it was noted that this would also require Green Acres approval due to its designation as a diversion under their rules.

The council also considered the purchase of land north of the soccer fields using open space acquisition funds and the complexities involved in subdividing the parcel. The quality of cell phone coverage at the park was a concern, prompting discussions about installing emergency phones. The bidding process for the lighting and pavilion installation was debated, with considerations given to whether to bundle the bids or separate them. The public’s engagement in decision-making, particularly through the Recreation Committee and community meetings, was deemed essential.

Furthermore, the council discussed the installation of conduit and lights at a school pathway entrance, with an estimated cost of $65,000 for the necessary materials. The inclusion of a junction box and the timeline for the bidding and awarding of contracts were debated, with the potential for delays and the need for public commentary being concerns.

Adjustments to police regulations, including standards for disqualifying prior criminal records, were on the agenda. The council also contemplated the implications of a new bill on affordable housing and the role of the qualified purchasing agent in light of this potential legislation.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Mary Jane Canose
City Council Officials:
Chad McQueen, Christine Zamarra, Jena McCredie, Jeffrey Roos, Al Ribeiro, Jay Ambelang

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