Should contractors work on Collins Park on holidays?

City council says no, citing neighborhood backlash

Dennis Collins Park
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Dennis Collins Park

The Bayonne City Council rejected a resolution at the Nov. 10 meeting that would have allowed the contractor conducting an environmental cleanup at Dennis Collins Park to work on holidays.

Collins Park is at West 1st Street, near the Bayonne Bridge.

A cleanup of contaminated soil has to take place before planned renovations can resume. Clean replacement soil will be added.

Working on holidays?

The contractor conducting the cleanup, PPG, wanted workers to work on holidays with some exceptions such as Christmas, Easter, and other such holidays.

The resolution sparked outrage. Second Ward Councilman Sal Gullace pointed out that the council previously prohibited contractors from working on holidays.

First Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa agreed, noting that a big company like PPG should be able to complete the court-ordered environmental cleanup without working on holidays.

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski highlighted the hypocrisy of the resolution, but noted the situation was a Catch-22. She said she is not sure how residents feel about the construction, which has affected parking in the area because the cleanup has been prolonged.

First Ward Councilman Neill Carroll said that the neighborhood wants the cleanup and planned renovations to be done, and that residents should gain access to vital parking spots again.

The city council rejected the resolution unanimously, with each member citing the need for continuity of the previously passed ordinance to prevent contractors from working on holidays.

The resolution would have allowed the contractors to work on holidays until Labor Day in 2021. Law Director Jay Coffey noted that was a worst case scenario and that the cleanup is expected to finish in the spring.

La Pelusa said that while the cleanup was court ordered, there is no timeline during which it must be completed.

The city council awarded a contract to Pear Consulting, in Vernon, for environmental oversight of the cleanup being conducted by PPG.

The contract was awarded under the Non-Fair and Open process. Fees are to be paid directly by PPG consistent with the agreement between the city and PPG.

Renovations after the cleanup

Renovations to Dennis Collins Park will move forward after the environmental cleanup is completed. The cleanup started in March, but the contractor, PPG, suspended operations in late April to prevent workers from being exposed to COVID-19.

PPG resumed the environmental cleanup in September. Due to this and later construction, parts of Dennis Collins Park remain temporarily closed.

The city completed Phase I of the improvements to Collins Park in 2018. This included new playground and exercise equipment, renovated tennis courts, a new volleyball court, new dog runs, new trees, and benches, among other improvements.

Phase II will began after the environmental cleanup.

Improvements in Phase II include the construction of new basketball courts, playgrounds, and handicapped entrances. According to Mayor James Davis, the city will also reconstruct the parking lot.

Along the Kill Van Kull shoreline near Collins Park, riprap needs to be removed. The stones have been tested and approved to be moved to Veterans Park along Newark Bay, near Ahern Veterans Stadium.

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