By Coleen Burnett
Eatontown — It was a lively night at the regular meeting of the Eatontown Borough Council on October 8.
The issue of the demolition of Howard Commons once again reared its controversial head. Mayor Gerald Tarantolo again asked the Council to be open to the possibility of the borough bonding the tear-down project and doing it themselves.
The idea is that if the borough does the project, they would be reimbursed for the cost of the demolition by whoever signs on to develop the property. The demolition appears to be the part of the reason at least one deal has fallen through. But it sounded as if the governing body was not happy with the concept.
Once again, Tarantolo stated his case. “I am looking for council giving permission to our engineer to prepare a specification to go out to potential contractors and see essentially what it would cost to demolish the buildings that are now comprised of Howard Commons,” Tarantolo said. “The proposal I put forth was that we would engage in a contract whereby if we bonded for the demolition, the conditions of the sale of the property would assure us that the bonding that we put into place to demolish those buildings would be refunded to the borough as a condition.”
But Councilman Dennis Connelly, a Republican who is running against the Democrat Tarantolo for the mayor’s post in the November election, said he would have none of it.
“There’s not going to be any chance that I’m going to be willing to pay or have our taxpayers pay for any bonding — there’s other methods that we can still do,” Connelly said with a tone of disgust. “I would actually be in favor, if we wanted to spend some money, is maybe having our attorney start looking into some legal recourse that this borough can do for going after FMERA or the government for leaving the buildings in this condition.”
“We already know that FMERA has different estimates of what the cost is, so why do we have to do it ourselves?” he asked.
Tarantolo shot back that looking into legal recourses would just end up costing Eatontown taxpayers more time and more money.
“The option you outlined is not refundable,” Tarantolo said, “The cost of taking the legal route as you just emphasized — certainly that is money coming from the taxpayers that we’re not going to have refunded.”
The council went into executive session at the end of the meeting to further discuss the issue, but ended up taking no action.
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In other news, Borough Administrator George Jackson announced that he had received a letter from the state Motor Vehicle Commission saying that their Eatontown office will undergo major renovations in 2015. It is expected that the contract will be awarded in November of this year and the work itself will begin in January.
Of particular importance to Monmouth County drivers (and their teenagers) is that the pending construction will push the driver’s exam from its usual location on the MVC property and take it out into the surrounding streets of Eatontown — specifically out on Route 36, west to Route 35, north on Wyckoff Road and Route 71, before finishing up back at Motor Vehicle headquarters.
The testing course that is currently on the property will house various pieces of heavy equipment for the duration of the construction.
Jackson said he does not anticipate a huge increase in traffic in the area.
“This will be about 75 vehicles per day; I don’t think it will catch anyone’s attention, particularly on the state and county highways,” he said. “It’s important to note that the ever-popular parallel parking and K-turn maneuvers will still be tested on MVC property, so we won’t have our driver’s license candidates pulling over in our neighborhoods and parallel parking near people’s cars or doing K-turns.”
The office, located at 109 Route 36, is the third busiest in the state.