Sussex County Community College trustee steps down and discloses ties to engineering firm
CP Engineers received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from college
By Nathan Mayberg
NEWTON — Last year, Sussex County Community College trustee Glen Vetrano voted to approve a $143,200 contract with CP Engineers for work on the college's master plan. At the time, he was being paid $13,000 a year by the engineering firm as a consultant, a role he held since the company's formation in 2012.
Last week, Vetrano resigned from the board and in a resignation letter furnished by the college, cited questions about a potential conflict of interest as the reason for his decision to step down from the board.
Vetrano, a 2010 appointee to the board by Governor Chris Christie, had abstained from votes involving the company before last year's vote and has abstained since, In his resignation letter, Vetrano said his consulting work did not involve contracts the firm had with the college.
The Sparta-based engineering firm was hired by the college to oversee all work relating to the college's student center building. In December, the board approved a $346,400 contract with CP Engineers for their work on the building.
This year, the board approved a $2.88 million project with Echelon Services of Newton for window replacements, a new air conditioning system and reinforcement of the steel structure around the windows at the student center, according to Kathleen Peterson, assistant director of marketing and public relations for the college.
Echelon Services was the only bidder on the project, and the bid process is currently being reviewed by a second law office, the New-Jersey based Saiber law partners. The firm of Courter, Kobert & Cohen reviewed the original bid.
In September, the board approved a capital maintenance project with CP Engineers for $179,670. According to minutes from the meeting, college Vice President of Finance and Operations Frank Nocella said that it will be saving money in the long run.
Vetrano said he had decided in April not to seek another term on the board when his current term ends at the end of the year.
"I have decided it would be appropriate for me to step aside at this time," he wrote in the release.
“I had expressed a desire to step down before these misleading allegations surfaced. I feel it is appropriate at this time to dispel any conflict of interest as essential construction work begins on the building. The focus should remain on the safety of the students and their educational opportunities, which remains first and foremost,” Vetrano wrote in the release.
In a resignation letter released by the college, Veterano's decision to resign is blamed on a July 11 New Jersey Herald article in which questions were raised about him having a conflict of interest with the engineering firm.
Vetrano is not the only member of the college board with ties to CP Engineers.
Board chairman Glenn Gavan is the attorney for the company. Gavan said he has abstained from all votes involving the firm. He declined to comment on Vertrano's resignation or the student center project.
Sussex Community College President Paul Mazur and Nocella did not return messages seeking comment.
Peterson said that Vetrano "has done an amazing job" while on the board. He was "very instrumental" in establishing a public safety academy at the school and brought in money for scholarships through several community organizations.
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