Still struggling to resolve the remainder of an environmental cleanup on a 17-acre site on East Linden Avenue, Jersey City expects to open a new municipal operations center there in June. In 2010, the City Council approved a $67 million bond to buy the property and to build a new hub of municipal operations there for use by the city’s Department of Public Works, Jersey City Improvement Authority, and the Jersey City Police Emergency Unit. The total cost of the project will be $90 million.
These operations will be moved from their currently location on Route 440 to make way for residential redevelopment of that property. The Route 440 property is part of a 100-acre site that is also set to undergo cleanup and will someday become a large retail, commercial, recreation, and residential development. The sale of the old property will help generate money for the new $90 million project.
“One portion of the foundation in one place appears not to be supporting the building.” – Brian Miller
The new building is designed to meet contemporary LEED environmental standards.
The old Route 440 site houses the JCIA garage and maintenance building, waste management garage, a JCIA salt dome, and some unused sites. Honeywell has agreed to clean up chromium contamination there, as they are federally mandated to do, and also will clean up non-chromium contamination left from use by the city. Honeywell could get a portion of the sale price from the land, the rest of which would pay for the city’s move to the smaller site on East Linden Avenue.
The city paid about $20 million for the Linden Avenue property.
The proposed consolidation of the JCIA’s operations with the DPW is a move Mayor Steven Fulop wants to make as part of shrinking the size of local government.
City council is currently working on legal issues regarding the cleanup of the Linden Avenue site. Officials said more than $1.2 million has been placed in escrow to cover the cleanup costs associated with previous uses, and there is only about $650,000 left in the account to cover unforeseen future problems.
The city’s legal department said they are having some issues with one of the companies formerly on site, a storage company, while other companies have settled and agreed to pay for the cleanup.
The project, which was expected to be done by the end of 2013, is now slated for a grand opening in June, officials said.
Sandy damage to City Hall worse than first thought
Brian Miller, a planner for the city, told the City Council at its March 12 caucus that damage to City Hall on Grove Street resulting from Superstorm Sandy was even more extensive than originally estimated.
The city recently completed a damage assessment of the historic building and found damage to offices, fixtures, as well as structural problems.
The in depth study came as a result of the city’s need to document the damage for FEMA and this uncovered some other problems.
“One portion of the foundation in one place appears not to be supporting the building,” he said. “We have filled in the gap to repair this.”
But the building, he said, is vulnerable to future storms, and the city will have to look into providing protection.
“We might consider installing some kind of flood wall around the building,” Miller said.
Mayor Fulop late last year warned that repairs could be expensive.
The storm that hit on Oct. 29, 2012 flooded the basement of the 119-year old building, destroyed documents and shorted out electrical systems.
Along with damage to the building’s foundation, the storm water also caused the staircase on the Mercer Street side of the building to shift. While the city has received some money from the federal government for repairs, it is likely new problems will increase the cost as repairs get underway, officials said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.