Is County Plaza Project cost effective?

Dear Editor:

On Thursday February 14th, 2008 I had the opportunity to attend the State of the County address which was administered by County Executive Thomas DeGise. Mr. DeGise was very informative with the goals and agendas of our county government for this year and for our future years ahead with a priority on the “Homeless” and “Open Space”. During this presentation I did become concerned when Mr. DeGise made reference to the project known as “County Plaza”. This project is the old Bond Drug facility which is located at the foot of Academy Street in Jersey City and is currently being renovated. Once this project is complete it is suppose to regionalize county services which is a good idea as long as it is cost effective.

Following the State of the County address The Board of Chosen Freeholders held their meeting which is also open to the public. At the time of the meeting when it became available for the public speakers session I addressed the Board of Freeholders and the County Administrator Abe Antun and asked the following three questions about the County Plaza Project: 1) How much was this property purchased for? 2) How much was the initial renovation estimate? And 3) How much is the real renovation cost as of today?

My questions were answered by Abe Antun as follows: The purchase price of the property was 14 million dollars. The initial renovation estimate was 15 million dollars. Now, as of today, the renovation cost has “ballooned” to over 42 million dollars with the potential of increasing higher! That is an astronomical increase from the original estimate of 15 million dollars. It is reasonable to believe that this cost could have increased by 20 percent considering rising costs of materials and labor. But to increase by almost 30 million dollars is unreal! Would it have been more cost effective to demolition this building and construct a new facility which could have the potential to save taxpayers money in the long run? Have we been stuck with property that will continue to be a burden even after being constructed? I will continue to monitor this project in the best interests of our taxpayers.

Sean Connors
Jersey City Heights


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