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City Council Examines Reopening Rail Tunnel

Special Public Meeting 11/14/16

William Kurzenberger

William Kurzenberger

PERTH AMBOY – R-464 – Authorizing submission of an application to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the Transportation Alternatives Program.

There were questions about safety with the possible reopening of a tunnel under railroad tracks. This connects Catherine Street and Dillman Lane near Perth Amboy High School.

William Kurzenberger, Program Coordinator, Office of Economic and Community Development came forward to shed more light on this resolution, “We want to remove some of the physical restraints and make improvements to the tunnel, shortening it from 200 to 100 feet. The proposed new entrances will have greater visibility, which will call for exterior and interior lighting. The design and engineering specifications we need requires more money. The $70,000 cost was recommended by our City Engineer.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz stated, “The police will look at safety concerns first.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry said, “Sometimes light and security cameras are not fixed.”

Cruz assured the Council that  they are looking at all of these issues first.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, “I want to make sure that the community (where they want to reopen the tunnel) participates more. Only a few people attend community meetings. “There’s no problem to get money for planing. The community involvement in the past has only been token.”

Lisa Nanton Council President

Lisa Nanton
Council President

B.A. Cruz agreed with Gonzalez, “Let’s have the meeting in the community that this will affect.”

Councilman Bill Petrick looked at the diagram of the plans supplied by Kurzenberger and pointed out to a section highlighted in orange and asked him if that was for a handicapped ramp.

Kurzenberger responded, “Yes.”

Petrick showed concerned about this because the ramps appeared to be going away from the High School, “Maybe these should be relocated to the other side. We also have speeding issues on Dillman Lane which is a safety hazard.”

Irizarry agreed with Petrick and wanted to know, “How can we do something about the speeding? Residents have been complaining. We even thought about having speed bumps but were told no because of insurance issues.”

Cruz said, “I will discuss this with the Deputy Police Chief.”

tunnel-plans-after-a

Underpass Between Catherine Street & Dillman Lane

Underpass Between Catherine Street & Dillman Lane. Click on photo to enlarge.

Council President Lisa Nanton wanted to know, “What caused the closing of the tunnel in the first place?”

Criminal activity that happened in the tunnel was cited as the reason for its closure.

Councilman Joel Pabon responded, “At one time there was a person in that tunnel for security purposes. Like Councilman Gonzalez says, we’ve got to get the community involved.”

Nanton asked Kurzenberger,   “Can the money can be applied for another project besides the reopening of the tunnel? And is this money just for the approval of these plans and then the implementation of the plans? Is there a deadline for the grant?”

Kurzenberger responded, “The deadline has passed. The resolution is needed for approval to get it going.”

The Resolution was moved by Councilman Bill Petrick and seconded by Councilman Fernando Gonzalez. Everyone voted “Yes.”

R-465 – Accepting the base bid and authorizing a contract with B&W Construction for emergency repairs to the Perth Amboy collection system in an amount not to exceed $800,000.00

Councilman Joel Pabon was curious to see when these repairs would be started.

Luis Perez Jimenez – Director of Operations at the at the USA-PA (Utility Service Associates Perth Amboy) Middlesex Water Company) answered, “We’re ready and we’re just waiting to get a resolution passed.”

This prompted Council President Lisa Nanton to ask, “For this Resolution, you are saying that you can get the repairs started and not go over the $800,000 amount?”

Perez answered, “Yes.”

Nanton then smiled and said emphatically, “Do it for less.”

Acting Attorney Rainone said, “$800,000 was the best price and it was based on a unit price bid.”

After Resolutions were voted on, Councilman Fernando Gonzalez was the first one to speak. “There are a lot of roads in town in bad shape. When I’m driving on parts of Amboy Avenue, I thought I was in Vietnam. Is somebody keeping track of these conditions? And will something be done? Amboy Avenue was repaved about 3 years ago.  After the utility companies finished digging up paved roads, they left them in  worse condition than before.”

B.A. Cruz responded, “Half of the roads were redone.”

Gas Meters on the outside of homes *Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

Gas Meters on the outside of homes
*Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

Gonzalez responded back, “Isn’t there a requirement for what has to be done before the work starts? We allow them (utility companies) to do whatever they want. I talked to someone from the Board of Public Utilities about the gas meters that are placed in front of buildings. The gentleman I spoke to said, “That’s not allowed.” Gonzalez continued, “A new building on Madison Avenue has 5 gas meters in front. Please ask the engineer about this. We need to create some kind of policy. The town of Elizabeth went into a war about this.”

Council President Nanton talked about her concerns, “We should talk to Elizabethtown Gas about this. Parts of Gordon, Water and some of the streets by the High School were patched – not paved.”

Cruz responded, “Elizabethtown Gas went on site where Gas Meters are placed on the front of buildings and residences and our City Engineer went with them. Jeff Rauch (Perth Amboy City Engineer) will be present at the next Caucus Meeting.”

Nanton had other concerns: “I want Jamie Rios (Director of Code Enforcement/Administrative Officer to the Planning and Zoning Board) here about the overflowing garbage cans. They’re attracting rats, raccoons, etc. I see a lot of them at night. Someone had the wires of their car chewed up by these pests. If we go to the expense of getting garbage cans with lids, people who violate these ordinances should be fined.”

Councilman Bill Petrick had concerns about a sewer collapse near 778 Robbin Street. Petrick also mentioned Riverview Drive which is very bumpy when you access it through Herbert Street. At least PSE&G took some responsibility for that action.” He offered congratulations to those who participated in the November 8th election and congratulated the winners.

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