(5/25) Residents arrived in droves at the May 10th Carroll Valley Borough Council meeting, likely prompted by the receipt of an anonymous red mailer, which Borough officials state they believe was mailed to all Carroll Valley residents. The mailer depicted the project as government overreach and fiscal irresponsibility. The mailer gave the impression that the project would
"raise taxes and was unnecessary."
Prompted by this mailer, residents hoping to voice their concerns regarding this notice and the proposed new Borough building arrived at the meeting, which was set to begin at 7 pm, but began late due to the massive turnout of citizens. With every seat in the council hearing room filled, residents lined up along the perimeter of the room, sat on the floor and even stood
outside both doors, all hoping to hear the Council’s decision on the building.
Some residents mentioned their concern with neglect to the current borough building, stating that if the necessary maintenance had been done to the building, there would be no need for a brand new building. Council Member Ken Lundberg stated that: "the building is in poor shape; there is inadequate ventilation, black mold is in the walls, and because poor initial
construction (especially to the foundation) renovation was just not an option. Demolition was the only real answer."
Residents Tom Wolf and Richard Matthews both spoke out about the "need for a new building, not a Taj Mahal" and their belief that we "need to build a building that meets our needs, not our wants." Some residents expressed concern that the Council is considering too many unnecessary amenities for the new building including the meeting room, holding cell for the police
station and even the relocation of the Fairfield branch library.
Residents also expressed concerned that due to the non-guarantee of the receipt of a grant for this project, the possibility of a tax hike to cover the cost of the building is very high. David Hazlett, the Borough Manager, however noted that the current Borough budget anticipated this project in order to afford it without increasing the taxes. The need for a tax increase
according to Hazlett is not foreseen in the future as the Borough has been saving money to fund this project for the past ten years.
Questions concerning the consideration of cost overrun of the project were also brought up. Residents wanted to know if there was a contingency plan set aside. Once again, Hazlett answered by stating that the Borough has budgeted for a possible 15% cost overrun.
Once all questions were answered to the satisfaction of the residents, the public comment section ended and a brief break was taken. A majority of the attendees left, satisfied with the answers given during the meeting. Several residents even spoke out about the mailer being misleading, and extended their thanks to Borough staff members for answering their questions.
There were several alternates within the project that were brought up by citizens and were discussed by the Borough Manager, David Hazlett, and the Council members. The Council chose to reject the projected $65,000 monument sign (with electronic component), LED stair railing lighting. The Council accepted the alternate to replace all fluorescent light fixtures with LED
lighting, which will be done at no additional cost by Lobar Associates as included in their bid. The remaining alternate concerning the stone in the lobby has been postponed, as the Council may return to this option at a later date as the project unfolds.
The Borough building was put out to bid in late March for a period of five and a half weeks, and six bids were received on April 28. Benedict Dubbs, the architect from Murray Associates who is designing the building, was present and spoke in regards to the bids received for the project. Out of the six bids received, Lobar Associates Inc. presented the lowest bid in the
amount of $3.599 million.
The Council voted 5 – 2 to accept the bid by Lobar Associates while selectively accepting and rejecting aforementioned alternates.
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