The Palisades Park Borough Council convened to address mold remediation in the police department’s building, stemming from a recently received notification that demands a response within 15 days. The council discussed several strategies to tackle the problem, including potential displacement to temporary trailers and making structural alterations to the existing building.
Drawing from an industrial hygienist report, the council deliberated on a “first fix” solution, which involves removing the current roof of the borough building and installing a new one to arrest the ongoing mold issues. The council favored bringing in an engineer to inspect the roof’s condition before taking any action. Concerns escalated over the costs associated with the proposal for a police department remote office trailer, part of the broader plan to use trailers for “essential services” during renovation phases. Various members urged a frugal approach to fitting out the trailers, focusing only on what was “necessary,” with a view to reducing costs.
Discussion ensued on the accurate assessment of renovation duration, fluctuating between 12 to 60 months, influenced by unforeseen challenges like potential asbestos discovery, which could prolong a six-month renovation to a year. The placement of these trailers became a topic of disagreement, with options such as the VA facility being considered without reaching a firm commitment. As the discourse transitioned to the condition of the existing building, the council acknowledged concerns about the presence of asbestos in floor tiles and areas with hot pipes, leaning on recommendations from reports by McCabe and Iris environmental to address these issues. The recommendation involved carpeting over these tiles to secure the dormant asbestos, which poses a risk if disturbed.
Addressing safety norms, the council referred to a 300-page report that flagged 42 fire safety violations, with approximately 25 deemed “immediately addressable.” Remedial electrical work estimated between “eight to twelve thousand dollars” was proposed as a vital step to show adherence to safety standards, involving the contracting of an electrician familiar with the building and McCabe’s report. The council stressed the gravity of potential health impacts due to mold and asbestos, with lawsuits from affected individuals looming as a significant concern. The discussion underscored the urgent need for decisions from higher council echelons, possibly necessitating relocation to safeguard public and employee health during remediation.
Discussion also enveloped concerns over compliance with civil rights act regulations regarding the 1962-built building, pondering a legal argument leveraging the “grandfather law” for exemption from certain requisites due to the building’s age and size. A proposal to seal a large portion of the basement to reduce the utilized area to under 3,000 square feet was considered a pathway to possibly achieving exemption from specific regulations.
As the meeting progressed, other points emerged, including electrical issues in the building’s basement described as a “total disaster area” and “unsafe,” demanding urgent updates and labeling of the electrical system. Discussions also broached financial matters, including the procurement of a new police SUV and concerns over transparency in settling payments associated with police body cams. Calls for involving a “special auditor” for an independent investigation into bond issues received approval. Towards the end, the council noted a resident’s mistrust over recent large bond ordinances and the need for careful financial management, besides contemplating a long-term solution for the municipal building instead of short-term “Band-Aid” approaches. The council acknowledged the necessity of immediate actions to address the pressing issues, amidst calls for transparency and fiscal responsibility.