Public comment on bond ordinance has been extended

| 21 Jul 2019 | 07:53

By Mandy Coriston
The Town Council met Tuesday evening, July 16 for its regular session, which included the second reading and public hearing on a bond ordinance that would create nearly $300,000 in funding to move forward with planning and design of a new municipal complex. The ordinance has been the subject of heated debate among the council. Residents attending the meeting also expressed mixed feelings about spending money on plans before setting a final budget for the entire project.
Councilman Harvey Roseff has been the most vocal opponent to the bond, saying he does not feel comfortable with the expenditures given that they’ve not yet received the latest round of testing reports from the Nader Group, LLC, the firm retained last fall to complete site assessments and provide preliminary designs.
“We’ve already spent $50,000 for testing on this (the current) building, and we don’t even have those results yet," Roseff said, "How can we set aside more money?”
Long-time resident Elaine McDougall, who has served the Byram community in a number of roles over the past several decades and who is currently the president of the Byram Senior Citizens Club, expressed concern over the cost to the taxpayers.
“We have a lot of aging residents, and a lot of young families just trying to make ends meet," she said. "We all know something needs to be done about a new building, but at what cost?”
Township Manager Joe Sabatini said the bond ordinance just sets things in motion to move onto the next stage, and that if the Nader Group comes back with unexpected results from the last round of site testing, the money does not need to spent, but the ordinance needs to be in place in order to do anything further.
Byram has been discussing a new municipal complex for several years, and with the formation of the Municipal Building subcommittee last year and the retention of the Nader Group, long-time Councilman Scott Olson thinks they need to strike while the iron is hot.
“We need to pass this ordinance because we’ve never been to this point before,” Olson said, “We’re in a much better place than we’ve ever been on getting a new building. This money will let us know exactly how much a new building will cost, to about 90 percent accuracy.”
Because the conversation surrounding the bond ordinance has become so lengthy, the council moved to extend the public hearing to their next scheduled meeting, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. The Municipal Building subcommittee will be holding a joint meeting with the Town Council and the Nader Group immediately preceding, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The public is strongly encouraged to attend both meeting sessions.
The Municipal Building subcommittee is also meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 for a review session. That meeting will also be held at the municipal building and is open to the public. All information on the municipal building project and the previous reports from the Nader Group can by found on the town’s website at, on the main News & Noteworthy page, click New Municipal Building Project Information 2016-2019 and Municipal Building Subcommittee Meeting Minutes/Agenda 2018-2019.
On a lighter note, Byram residents are invited to ‘Hike with the Mayor’ at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 3, 2019. Mayor Alex Rubenstein will lead participants on a hike from Tamarack Park on Rt. 206 to CO Johnson Park. The event is free, but registration is required and can be completed online at the town’s website.