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Funds for new first aid building included in Holmdel bond ordinance

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A bond ordinance that appropriates $9.13 million for capital improvements, including the construction of a new first aid building, has been introduced by the Holmdel Township Committee.

The ordinance was introduced on July 23 with support from Mayor Eric Hinds, Deputy Mayor Michael Nikolis, Committeeman Rocco Pascucci, Committeeman Tom Critelli and Committeeman Greg Buontempo.

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held on Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. in the municipal building.

Residents may comment on or ask questions about the ordinance at that time. The ordinance may be adopted following the public hearing that evening.

The legislation would, if adopted, appropriate funds for public improvements; for the acquisition of equipment, machinery, technology and automotive vehicles; for renovations to the existing emergency services building at 20 Crawfords Corner Road to become a firehouse only; for the construction of a new first aid building across from the current emergency services building; and for the acquisition of a new fire truck.

Bonds or notes totaling $8.69 million are expected to be issued and the township expects to use $434,900 as the down payment, according to the ordinance.

The capital improvements outlined in the ordinance are as follows:

• The 2019 paving, curb, sidewalk and drainage program at various locations, $1.6 million;

• Improvements to public buildings and facilities, $652,000;

• Acquisition of new, additional or replacement equipment and machinery, new information technology and telecommunications equipment, new communication and signal systems equipment and new automotive vehicles, for the use of township departments, offices and agencies, $1.8 million;

• Construction of a new first aid building, which includes related site improvements to the existing emergency services building, $5 million.

Following the introduction of the ordinance, resident Ralph Blumenthal asked Pascucci if a $5 million appropriation is a sufficient estimate for renovations to the existing emergency services building, the construction of a first aid building and the acquisition of a new fire truck.

“I feel like it is a reasonable number,” Pascucci said. “(The committee) will all be discussing it when we get into more detail with the bond ordinance. My knowledge so far is an $800,000 fire truck, $2.3 million for a new first aid building (which includes) furniture, architect fees, engineering fees, etc.

“I don’t have a tied down figure for retrofitting the current fire/first aid building. It’s all in the works, we are waiting for more information … Hopefully at every meeting you will hear a new detail,” Pascucci said.

Regarding the proposed conversion of the existing firehouse/first aid building into a firehouse only, Blumenthal asked, “How much is addition vs. renovation?”

“It’s plenty big the way it is,” Pascucci said. … “It has all the things (first responders) have been asking (for) … Whether we have to knock down a wall to make one large bay for one of the (fire trucks) is still up in the air.”

In other business, committee members awarded a $5,000 grant to the Holmdel Historical Society for renovations to the vacant Church of St. Catharine, which is located at 108 Middletown Road.

The society was previously awarded a $5,500 grant from the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders to help convert the building into a museum.

The grant from the Township Committee will be used to paint the building. Members of the society said they will place historic Holmdel artifacts such as old business signs and farm equipment in the museum.

In other action, Buontempo proposed that the committee hire the management consulting firm Government Strategy Group, New Providence, to conduct a search for a new township administrator.

Donna Vieiro resigned from her position as township administrator in early July. She left the position following an investigation into claims that she had committed violations in her administrative position.

Members of the governing body voted 4-0 with one abstention to hire Government Strategy Group at a cost of $9,950. Voting “yes” to hire the firm were Critelli, Nikolis, Pascucci and Buontempo. Hinds abstained from the vote.

In a statement he issued on July 24, Buontempo said, “Thanks to these steps, I expect we will hire a new administrator in the next 60 days and get Holmdel back on track.”

Holmdel Police Chief John Mioduszewski will continue to serve as the acting township administrator while the search for a new administrator is conducted.

Finally, Nikolis offered a motion to prevent anyone who had previously served as the township administrator from being rehired for that position for a minimum of two years after their separation from Holmdel.

On a roll call vote, Buontempo, Pascucci and Nikolis voted “yes,” Hinds voted “no” and   Critelli abstained. The motion passed 3-1 with one abstention.

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