Freeholders To Approve $31.1 Million In Borrowing

UNION COUNTY – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is expected to approve $33.4 million bond ordinance to construct a stairwell at the county courthouse and make various other improvements to county property. A public hearing and final reading will take place at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Oct. 9.

 “The new bond ordinance will enable the county to move forward with measures that protect the public welfare, and continue to meet the demand for high quality public services,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. 

The exact amount of the authorization is $33,441,260.  The debt authorized by the ordinance will be $31,137,894.  The difference between the two figures is the result of $750,000 in state grants, and a down payment of $1,553,366.

Almost half of the authorized funds will be used to add a stairwell to the County Courthouse tower.  The $15 million state-mandated stairwell is required as a fire safety exit.  It will be built as an appendage to the 17-story tower.

The courthouse tower was constructed in 1928 and is listed on the state and national registers of historic sites.  Because of its historic status, the project has been reviewed and approved by the State Historical Commission.

A number of other county structures are due for work related to fire safety, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and structural upgrades including roof replacements.  The ordinance authorizes a total of $3 million for these projects.

Other major items in the authorization include $2.6 million for the routine replacement of traffic signals at intersections on county roads.

“This is all part of the routine business of keeping our infrastructure up to date,” said Estrada.  “We take care of our facilities on a regular basis, and we avoid the expensive consequences of neglect.”

The county park system dates from the 1920s and requires regular upgrades to accommodate the heavy – and growing – use of its facilities.  The bond ordinance authorizes $4.4 million for a number projects including $1.3 million for roof replacements, $500,000 for a restoration project in the Deserted Village, and $500,000 for the design and construction of new athletic field lighting.  The popular Trailside Nature and Science Center will receive $100,000 for new classroom and auditorium equipment, to bring those areas up to the facility’s state-of-the-art standard.

The county’s Vo-Tech campus will receive $800,000 for the upgrade of its boilers, to accommodate increased enrollment.  Vo-Tech will also receive another $800,000 for other campus building upgrades and for the replacement of instructional equipment.

The ordinance also authorizes $285,000 for a new bomb squad vehicle, $189,000 for three new paratransit vans, and $200,000 for a new sewer basin cleaner.

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