Residents may notice that the Department of Public Works is out in force filling potholes throughout the city. But this isn’t merely in preparation for winter. The city’s plan to repave hundreds of streets has been put on hold because the private contractor has fallen behind on a smaller repaving project.
And at the Oct. 26 City Council caucus meeting, city officials said they now have no confidence the contractor can perform the much larger citywide repaving project.
“The new municipal engineer will look at the contract,” said city Business Administrator Robert J. Kakoleski. “This is because a small contract that was supposed to be done in spring is not yet done. We hope to cancel the larger contract. We hope to rebid the work over the winter, splitting it up among multiple vendors.”
“This is nuts.” – Councilman Richard Boggiano
Councilman Richard Boggiano is frustrated at the delay.
“People are bugging me and other council members to get the streets paved and now they’re going to cancel it,” he said. “This is nuts.”
Each year the city makes a list of streets to be repaved. Some of these are paid for under a grant from the state, but many are paid for out of the municipal budget.
City Attorney Jeremy Farrrel said to protect the city from a lawsuit by the vendor, the city has to provide documentation of failure to complete work.
“That takes time,” he said. “We’ve known for the last couple of months not to expect the smaller project to be competed. But we needed to document it, and then we’ll be in a position to cancel the larger contract.”
Since the delay has already caused a backlog of streets needing to be repaved, Councilwoman Diane Coleman said she was concerned.
“Last year we made a list of streets that needed to be repaved,” she said. “Does this mean we’re going to combine the old list with a new list?”
The list will be maintained, the Kakoleski said.
Councilman Frank Gajewski said he had promised people that their streets would be paved this year.
“Now we’re going to have to wait until next year,” he said.
The city may soon add inspectors to its work force, and officials claim they are sorely needed to cope with the massive expansion of building projects.
Two ordinances would create the new title of chief project coordinator for construction. This would be a change of title for an existing employee, whose job would be to help coordinate projects that affect roadways and traffic throughout the city.
The city has become a nightmare of road closures, often resulting in traffic snarl ups or exaggerated detours. The new coordinator would oversee these projects and provide information to the public as to their location and possible ways to avoid areas that are under construction.
The city will also create the new position of road inspector whose duties will be to hire more inspectors. The city is extremely understaffed with inspectors, and this is the first step towards alleviating that problem.
The road inspector would oversee any street repaving projects involving state or federal grants, monitor to make sure they are done property, and document problems with the objective of fixing any mistakes that are made.
Berry Lane Park gets $7 million more
Seen as the cornerstone of the Morris Canal Redevelopment Zone, the construction of Berry Lane Park will get an additional $7 million, bringing the total price tag to over $30 million so far. In addition to $12 million in city funds, the money has come from a combination of grants and capital improvement funding.
Berry Lane seems destined to become the biggest and most expensive park in Jersey City.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, officials said, with additional work on a skate park and pavilion slated to begin in the spring.
Boggiano questioned when the park would be done and how much more will be sunk into the park while other work around the city is not being done.
Coleman, however, said the current administration did not start this project.
“We inherited this when it was one third done,” she said. “Our goal is not to lose millions already invested.”
The project began with a cleanup of chromium contamination remaining from when the site was used by a paint company. The estimated $20 million cleanup cost was born mostly by the paint company. Officials said they are trying to find sources of funding other than city taxpayers, including state and federal funding.
“This is something we had to do,” Watterman said.
Official believe that phase 5, costing another $4.9 million more, will likely be the last big investment in the park.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.