Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dumont Begins to Empty Borough Hall

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dumont Begins to Empty Borough Hall

Article excerpt

DUMONT -- A construction crew began ripping up a portion of the Borough Hall's parking lot this week to make way for a set of four trailers that will house the Police Department starting Nov. 10.

The borough will spend $230,000 to set up and lease the trailers until the end of 2015, said Borough Administrator John Perkins. They could be there longer. The dozen or so other borough employees now operating out of Borough Hall will vacate the premises "as soon as possible."

Perkins has yet to identify a suitable location for the rest of the staff, but he estimates that renting a facility will cost "in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $60,000 a year."

The decision to move police personnel from Borough Hall, where they have been based for decades, comes on the heels of an August report by Melissa Johnson of the Bergen County Department of Health Services that found the structure "causes or is likely to cause serious physical harm to employees within the building." The report, which was initiated after complaints by employees of the Police Department, cited a faulty roof, damaged asbestos tiles, vermin and poor indoor air quality among other issues with the World War I-era building.

The building's condition is well-documented. Dumont commissioned a feasibility study in 2008, for example, that included an itemized list of all immediate and necessary repairs.

"More than 90 percent of the noted repairs are the exact same repairs that are needed to date," Johnson wrote in her report.

Borough officials say they put off repairs to Borough Hall because they thought for years that a move to a new municipal complex was imminent. But the price tag for such a building could exceed $9 million. The 2014 budget is just shy of $21 million.

"It's not that things weren't done," said Perkins, who added that the borough has taken stopgap measures to deal with air quality problems and the worst sections of the roof, among other fixes. "But I'm not going to put on a new roof [costing $165,000] to stay here for two more years. I'm not one to throw good money after bad."

But the move never happened. "There is not a lot of open space [in Dumont] or places for sale that aren't in flood zones" and that meet the borough's size and functionality requirements, Perkins said. …

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