Town Administrator Anthony Iacono said during a telephone interview last week that the Town Council will likely award the bid at the Nov. 28 council meeting. Officials said that a look at the firm's background had turned up no problems.
"The town attorney and the architect presented their reports at the last caucus meeting [Nov. 13]," Iacono said. "They presented the pros and cons of awarding the bids. Although there were some concerns, the council has decided to move ahead with the project."
Mayor Dennis Elwell, when interviewed last week, said all the bonds and references were checked and that town Attorney Frank Leanza and the library's architect Frank Capazzi had gone to sites where Emara had done work previously.
"Both looked thoroughly into the work and felt extremely comfortable with our awarding this bid," Elwell said. "They sat down with the company and reviewed past and present projects. While there were some areas of concern, these matters were addressed to our satisfaction."
When asked about the problems last week, Leanza said some problems had been reported at a project done in Ocean County, but that when he investigated the situation, he found that delays attributed to Emara had actually been the result of conflicting orders by the local government.
Leanza said Emara had been ordered to put a steel-pipe fire sprinkler system into the unheated attic of the building under construction.
"Emara had offered to put a plastic system in to keep the pipes from freezing up, but were told by local officials to put the steel system in," Leanza. "When the building inspector looked over the project, he halted it."
Leanza, who is an engineer as well as an attorney, said he was also impressed with the company's engineering credentials.
Low bid may be the only option
Town officials are scrambling to award the bid because they fear re-bidding the project. In September, the town received 19 bids to the build a new library, ranging from a low of $2.9 million to a high of $4.4 million.
Members of the Town Council expressed fear that if they did not accept the low bid this time, bids would be even higher if they re-bid the project.
The town bonded for the purchase of the land at 1377 Paterson Plank Road two years ago. After buying the land, the town had about $1.5 million left. Combining this with the $1 million the library trustees had set aside, town officials hoped the library could be constructed for about $2.5 million. To help offset the addition costs, the Town Council voted in October to increase its Capital Improvement Budget by $500,000, with the idea of using the additional money to meet this bid.
Iacono attributed September's high bids to a strong economy and said the prices may increase over the next six months, causing the town to have to accept a higher bid later. While officials considered cutting back on some aspects of the project, they said they did not wish to have the same situation that happened when the high school was constructed in the mid-1970s. In the high school situation, voters rejected two bonds and school officials wound up cutting back on the project only to have it cost the same amount as the original project.
Other matters completed
The Town Council at its Nov. 13 meeting awarded a contract for a heating and air-conditioning system for the new recreation center on Centre Avenue.
The $68,530 contract was awarded to Icon Mechanical Inc., of Newton, after two sets of bids were rejected by the superintendent of public works, the town attorney and the town engineer as being too high.
Leanza said under state law, the town could negotiate with any or all of the contractors to get a lower bid. The companies from both rounds of bidding were contacted. As a result, Gerald Perricone, the town engineer, negotiated a contract that saved the town about $20,000 from the original bid.
"This required only a minor change in the specifications," Leanza said.
The council, in other matters, also:
Passed a $210,000 bond ordinance that would pay for the redevelopment of the Buchmuller Park Little League field.
Passed an ordinance that would change the hours of street sweeping in the area of the Front Street day care center.
Passed a $2.5 million ordinance to pay for tax appeals.
Passed a resolution that would authorize the purchase of new ice rink mats at $43,954.
Passed a resolution that would set the hourly rate for a clerk in the police records room, and a per session fee for the court clerk.
Flood plan moves ahead
The Town Council held a public hearing recently with representatives of the engineering firm of Goodkind & O'Dea of Jersey City to go over the town's Municipalities Flood Mitigation Plan.
The plan - which was the result of a $27,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency - details various potential flooding areas in town, and set goals and implement a plan of action to reduce the threat of flooding.
The plan attacks six problem areas that have significant flooding problems. These include areas along the Hackensack River, the Mill Creek area, the Sack Creek area, Meadowlands Parkway, Seaview Drive and Henry Street.
Peter Black of Goodkind & O'Dea said that flood impacts include damages to homes, buildings, structures and property, hazards to public health and safety, and obstruction to roadways, emergency services and people getting to and from work.
The plan includes short-term solutions. These include:
Flood hazard reduction planning and coordination with the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission
Public education and flood insurance awareness
Flood warning program enhancement
Sanitary sewer surcharge and backflow prevention
Local drainage improvements
Drainage system maintenance program enhancement
According to the plan, long term solutions would include:
Elevation or acquisition of severely impacted structures
Storm drainage improvements
Storm drainage improvements and flood control measures
Sack creek stormwater pumping station and tide gates
Open space initiative program