Projected Opening Of Township Youth Center Set At Winter 2020

Robert Reid and Martin Kimmel, left to right, at the June 13 Township Council meeting.

The long-awaited, much-anticipated township youth center could open its doors by the winter of 2020, the Township Council was told on June 13.

It’s possible that opening could be maybe a month or so sooner, but not likely, members of the architectural firm hired to honcho the project told the council.

That’s because final designs have to be drawn, schematics have to be developed, whatever necessary permits have to be won and obstacles such as the weather have to be overcome, they said.

While the news that the center’s opening could be two years away wasn’t warmly received by township officials, they eventually grudgingly accepted the time frame.

The center is targeted for a 40,000-square-foot parcel on Lewis Street, and could cost between $13 million and $14.6 million to build.

The youth center for years has been a pet project of Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois, who said after her last re-election that its construction was her main priority of this term.

Martin Kimmel and Robert Reid of the Kimmel Borgette architectural firm appeared before the council to talk about the next steps in the building process and also give the proposed time frame.

The main design of the 25,000-square-foot, three-story building is completed and was unveiled to the council in February. What will happen next, the Kimmel and Reid said, are meetings with the center’s target audience to help refine the final design as well as with township officials to give guidance with technical issues.

“There will be a lot of touches from the user groups in the schematic design to flesh out the details, and then when we’re in design development, that’s where we dive deep from a professional standpoint into the technical side,” he said.

The final result, Kimmel said, will be the bid specifications for the project.

Kimmel Borgette will oversee the entire project’s construction, with regular reports back to the council, he said. The company also offers a one-year warranty the clock for which starts ticking upon the center’s opening.

Noting that the council will probably get ” lot of push-back” on the winter 2020 completion date, Francois asked Kimmel to explain the time line.

“It will take a year roughly from now to when we can start construction, and roughly another year from that,” to completion, Kimmel said.

Reid said the company wants to ensure the final bid documents will allow for “good bids.”

“We want to make sure that we don’t have any surprises during construction,” he said. “Our goal is to have zero change orders.”

Kimmel said that one of the things that would delay the construction would be permit approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection, prompting township attorney Louis Rainone to ask which DEP permits would be necessary.

“Are there wetlands on that site?” he asked.

“Everywhere we go in this state, the conservation districts want to see storm water management at a level above the municipal level,” Kimmel said.

“You must only build in wetlands,” Rainone said. “This site is a built site, had a building on it. I don’t think there is a DEP permit here.”

“If I’m in error and we can compress the time, that would be great,” Kimmel said.

Rainone did say that bid specifications for any project that costs more than $10 million must be reviewed by the state Comptroller, which will delay things for between 30 to 90 days.

Rainone said the project “didn’t necessarily” have to go before the Planning Board because it’s a township project, but Mayor Phil Kramer said he would want that review.

Even without any DEP permits, Kimmel said, bids probably won’t go out until February 2019, with an award probably made in March.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker noted that the weather that time of year is not usually conducive to construction.

“Bear in mind the calendar and what happens in February, and the likelihood,when it comes to the beginning stages of construction when concrete can’t be poured until April in New Jersey,” he said.

Kimmel said once the bid is awarded, construction should take between 12 and 16 months.

Francois said that the township has waited 50 years for the center, “we want to make sure it’s done the right way, we want to take our time.”

“So some of the folks who are going to push back, we’ll just have to articulate to them why it’s taking so long,” she said.

“This is a wonderful design we’re all very excited about the project,” Francois said. “We’re looking forward to working closely with you, we will be managing obviously your time and making sure we oversee all aspects of the project.”

After the presentation, the council adopted on second reading a capital ordinance appropriating $970,000 for architecture and engineering costs. That will be added to the $230,000 already appropriated for those charges.


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