Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

$7M School Administration Building to Go to Vote in Lodi

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

$7M School Administration Building to Go to Vote in Lodi

Article excerpt

LODI - The public will now get a chance to have a say on the fate of the $7 million school administration building project on Hunter Street. The referendum set for November will be nonbinding, however.

Last month, the council put forth a motion to put the referendum on the November ballot, but it failed with a tie, 4-4. However when the motion was made again at the May 24 meeting, it passed, 5-3, with board member Jonathan Carafa switching his vote.

In December, the board approved a plan to raze and reconstruct a new administration building. The existing administration building at 8 Hunter St. -- a former elementary school -- houses 24 employees, the school board offices, the superintendent's office and the district's child study team. The project was suspended to investigate options other than the demolition and reconstruction of the building, and whether public approval is needed.

Board member Ryan Curioni asked the board to reconsider its stance on the referendum taken last month, even if the vote is nonbinding. A nonbinding vote means regardless of the vote's outcome, the final decision will be left in the board's hands.

Other board members disagreed, saying they felt the taxpayers were protected since the project is already suspended.

"We are already protecting the taxpayers," board member Michael Nardino said. "The entire project is suspended. If you take a straw poll right now, not one person would vote in favor of the project."

In January, the project for demolition and construction of a new building was suspended in a split vote by the board, pending a nonbinding public referendum.

Nardino said two years ago when the board made plans to demolish and rebuild, it was presented with only two options from the engineer: rebuild for $7 million or repair the building for $5 million. "Now, this year, we were given different options," Nardino said. …

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