Brick 19th century buildings that once housed a county hospital will be replaced with a new state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot home for the Essex County Public Works Department, county officials announced this week.
Gov. Chris Christie joined Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. in Cedar Grove Friday for the groundbreaking of the $8.3 million project.
“Ensuring swift and safe access to public works facilities for residents and workers is crucial to the daily operation of local governments,” Christie said. “Today’s groundbreaking of this state-of-the-art Public Works Building here in Cedar Grove will provide safer and more modern working conditions for the county’s employees, as well as enhance the overall quality of life for residents of Essex County.”
The Essex County Department of Public Works is responsible for building and maintaining county infrastructure, ensuring wastewater and storm water systems are in working order and road maintenance.
In addition to modern offices, the new facility will include nine bay areas where vehicle repairs can be made as well as a sign workshop, currently housed at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, record storage and a laboratory to be used by mosquito biologists.
“Building this new DPW facility is long overdue, and will give our employees a modern workplace where they can do their jobs more efficiently and safely,” DiVincenzo said. “In addition, the new facility replaces an eyesore and will enhance the aesthetics of Bradford Avenue in Cedar Grove.”
Mayor Robert O’Toole agreed the new facility would improve the appearance of Bradford Avenue, where a new softball field was recently constructed and another all-purpose field is planned.
A green-slatted fence visible from the road will be removed and vehicle bays and other heavy equipment will access the building from the rear.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura commented on the importance of a smoothly operating Public Works service during emergencies.
“Public Works provides critical support. If they don’t have our vehicles running, then we can’t respond in times of emergency,” Fontoura said.
Other elected officials on hand to show their support for the project included Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, NJ State Senator and Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz and Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill.
Greg Comito and Associates from Newark was awarded a $587,000 contract to design the building. Brockwell and Carrington from Towaco, NJ, was awarded a publicly bid project for $8,329,000 to construct the building.
The project is expected to be completed in a year.