Oradell Borough Council Grapples with Escalating Costs in Fire Truck Restoration

In a recent meeting marked by budgetary strain and community endeavors, the Oradell Borough Council faced a financial curveball: the cost of restoring a historic 1928 fire truck had quadrupled from an initial estimate of $20,000 to $80,000. While the fire department has successfully raised its share of the revised budget, questions loomed about how the borough would come up with its share of the costs. In addition, the meeting also touched on multiple community concerns ranging from local roadwork to the introduction of a girls’ volleyball program.

The council had originally agreed to a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement with the fire department for the fire truck restoration. Jim Koth, President of the Fire Department, presented before-and-after pictures of the engine components to illustrate the extensive work accomplished so far. A completion date in early 2024 is anticipated, with the truck slated to be a star attraction in next year’s 4th of July parade. The fire department successfully secured its additional matching funds, including a donation from a member’s employer. In contrast, the borough has yet to identify where the additional $30,000 will come from, creating a point of tension within the council.

“The restoration is about 65% complete, and we’ve managed to get our part of the funding. It’s crucial that the borough allocates its share to keep the project on track,” said Rob Capaccioni, a member of the fire department who also contributed to the funding through his company’s matching donation program.

Other highlights of the meeting included updates on ongoing construction projects. The Borough Engineer informed the council about work on Prospect Avenue, emphasizing that the projects would be completed before the school year starts. However, concerns about road paving and the need for more effective communication with residents were noted, especially given the upcoming PSE&G project in the Blauvelt area.

In other matters, Councilman Roger Tashjian advocated for the addition of a girls’ volleyball clinic, slated to start in September. The council resolved to pass a resolution with conditions, thus ensuring the program’s initiation. However, the topic appeared to be a relatively lower priority compared to the more immediate financial concerns over the fire truck restoration.

Other agenda items touched on environmental efforts, such as a Hackensack River cleanup planned for September 30th, and discussions about potential funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the Roads to Schools program. Public comment was robust, with residents inquiring about various issues, including a tax settlement on a commercial building and environmental testing near the senior citizens’ building.

Councilman Stephen Carnevale briefed the council on a recent audit, stating no significant deficiencies but acknowledging minor lapses in internal controls. He assured the council that the capital budget would be finalized by the end of September.

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