Secaucus council bonds millions for new senior center

Environmental remediation will occur before construction can begin

The Secaucus Town Council has adopted an ordinance bonding $9,644,000 toward various capital improvements, including the construction of a new senior center.

The council voted unanimously to adopt the bond ordinance at its August meeting. While the bond is for $9.6 million, approximately $7.5 million will be borrowed, and the rest will be drawn from town reserves.

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New senior center

Under the ordinance, $7,818,670 will go toward the construction of a new senior center at 101 Centre Ave. While the bond will foot most of the $7.8 million bill, the town has received a number of grants and is using other monies to supplement the project.

The old senior center at the site is currently being demolished, according to Town Administrator Gary Jeffas.

“We’re almost done,” Jeffas said. “They just have to level off some of the ground. So basically the demolition is done and [the new building] is in design.”

Jeffas said the town is currently waiting to get architectural plans back for the new building.

Environmental remediation

The move came after the town realized that oil tanks underneath the old center had been leaking for a number of years. Environmental remediation work needed to be done at the three buildings that composed the old center.

It was cheaper to start from scratch then to remediate the existing center.

“It just made sense, with everything that had to be done, for us to just go ahead and take the building down, do the cleanup of the site, and build the new building,” Jeffas said.

Jeffas said some of the contamination leached under the foundation, which made it cheaper to construct a new building.

No to jackhammers 

“You can’t get equipment down there,” Jeffas said. “You literally would have had to have people down there with sledgehammers and jackhammers trying to by hand. Everybody who evaluated it said the cost of doing that by hand, based on the way it is, would be unbelievable. It was not cost effective based on the age of the building and the issues that it had.”

The old center is now being demolished before remediation will begin, which will remove contaminated soil from the site that was formerly beneath the building. Following that, the town will need to send the project out to bid.

“Hopefully, by year’s end, we’ll have some plans back that will be more solidified, and then we can start the [bid] process,” Jeffas said.

Jeffas estimated that the bid process could began by the beginning of next year.

Serving the whole community

While the building will primarily serve as a senior center during the day, it will also serve the rest of the community.

“Our prior senior center, we called it a senior center but it had a very big room where they can do lunches, bingo, or whatever,” Jeffas said. “We’ll have that same thing, maybe even a little bit bigger.”

For the rest of the day and evening, the facility will serve as a town community center for residents to hold events and meetings.

“It will be a community center too,” Jeffas said. “So it will be used by the seniors and then for other needs throughout the community.”

While the construction is ongoing, the community center on Front Street is functioning as a makeshift senior center. When the new senior center opens, it will be larger and more accessible to the handicapped.

Other improvements 

Another big ticket item in the capital bond ordinance includes $510,000 for the estimated cost of storm sewer and flood mitigation control improvements at a number of locations and the installation of an automatic pump cleaner at the High School Storm Sewer Pump Station.

The ordinance allots $380,000 in supplemental funding for the construction of a passive park on Farm Road; $308,550 for the resurfacing of various roads; and $189,080 for the estimated costs of other various improvements to public buildings and facilities.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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