Five Things: Township Council Meeting

Council discusses underage drinking, posting public information, 40K change order

[Editor's note: This story was updated Jan. 4 at 12 p.m. to reflect additional information from Leonard Lepore regarding the change order on Valley Road.]

The township council met for the first time in the new year Tuesday night. Here are five things to know from the meeting.

1. The conference agenda and public meeting agenda were not posted on the township website until Tuesday — the same day as the township council meeting — leaving Councilman Joe Krakoviak concerned about how quickly information is provided to the public. "I'm concerned about the promptness of materials getting published on the website," he said.

Karen Carnevale, the township clerk, said the agenda was not posted because the person in charge of posting the information online was not available due to personal issues. She said this was the first time the agenda was not posted the week prior to the meeting. The agenda and accompanying materials are submitted to the council the Thursday afternoon prior to the meeting and publicly posted Friday morning, she said.

Council president Patricia Spango said the delay in posting the agenda online was not a "recurring issue" and noted it was the first time it had happened. 

Krakoviak suggested adding language regarding public posting to the current ordinance that regulates when agendas and related materials need to be submitted to the council.

"The current ordinance makes no reference to public dissemination … if we put it into an ordinance, we're likely to take it more seriously," he said. "It's simply utilizing the technology that we have. I'm suggesting we add language … add to it the priority of making sure it gets out to the public in a timely manner."

Krakoviak said he would draft an addition and present it to the council for further review and look into possibly having the agenda available on public access TV.

2. The township will apply for a 2012 state grant to help fight underage drinking in West Orange. Under the Cops-in-Shop grant, West Orange police will work undercover in local liquor stores to deter minors from purchasing alcohol. Jack Sayers, business administrator for the township, said the township has run the program for years and said it not only helps reduce incidents of teens purchasing alcohol but also helps police build relationships with store owners.

Officers are trained to look for fake IDs and arrest those who are underage and buying liquor. The annual federal grant is managed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

3. The township council voted to approve a temporary budget from Jan. 1 until the new budget is finalized.

4. The township council approved a $40,000 change order for the Valley Road Parking Lot project. The resolution caused concern among council members who said the engineer for the project, G.C. Stewart of Essex Fells, grossly underestimated the project.

Helios Construction, Inc. of Ocean was awarded the $180,000 project in October 2010. The change order is a 22 percent increase from the original contract  and raises the final amount to $221,000.

Leonard Lepore, municipal engineer for the township and director of public works, said the plans that were bid upon were not reflective of the actual quantities of work needed to complete the project.

Construction in the parking lot on the corner of Northfield Avenue, Main Street and Valley Road began in the spring of 2011, Lepore said. The project included both aesthetic and structural changes to the 80-car parking lot that includes better lighting, improved drainage and a central pay station. Business owners can also buy parking permits.

Reading off the memo sent by Lepore, Councilman Joe Krakoviak asked how the calculations could be off by almost 109 tons of asphalt, 500 linear feet of vertical curb and 107 square yards of brick pavers.

"These numbers are just too far off," Lepore agreed. "Rarely do I expect the numbers to be spot on but I agree these numbers are just wrong, I don't know how they got them to be wrong."

He said he has previously worked with the engineering company on different types of projects without issue, "It's just a matter of just not paying minute attention to the details."

Lepore told Patch Wednesday that rebbiding the additional work would have likely spiked costs and delayed the project. Since the remainder of the work did not involve significant changes in the original plan, the township decided to pave ahead with the additional work using the same vendors. Construction was completed in mid-summer.

Change orders can be requested once the work is complete if there are no major changes to the project, Lepore said.

Councilman Victor Cirilo reiterated that the township should consider past performance when considering vendors in future projects. "We should think twice when this company comes up." 

The change order will be paid through the Community Development Block Grant Program and from the capital budget.

The resolution passed in a 4-1 vote with Krakoviak dissenting.

5. The township council unanimously approved a resolution to award Matrix New World Engineering, Inc. preliminary environmental assessment work on three parcels of land the township is seeking to acquire.

The work was Services Group of Eatontown that agreed to assess two parcels of land for $7,500. The contract, though, was tabled after council members .

Reconsidering the proposed resolution, the administration added a third parcel to the project and requested proposals from several engineering firms.

According to Lepore, Matrix New World Engineering responded with the lowest proposal. The company will asses three lots on Wiley Terrace, Edgewood Avenue and Belgrade Terrace for $4,200.

Loren Svetvilas January 05, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Leonard Lepore is the director, and should be overseeing the project? Should Lepore take any responsibility? He has a history of accommodating G.C. Stewart in the past, which leaves me wondering if he is the best man for the job of director of public works. Also, G.C. Stewart is the lead planner for the Seton Hall Prep field expansion, which the town zoning board unanimously agreed was "good for West Orange". (Despite how bad it is for the neighborhood, nearby residents, and the environment.) This new mistake of his is yet another example of why he and his company are not good for West Orange.
wohopeful January 05, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Mr. Lepore is a disaster to our town. He is old and ill prepared to deal with the significant challenges of the job. Only 1 year ago people were trapped in their homes for days because the DPW under the direction of Mr. Lepore was not able to get the snow removed from the streets. Fast forward 9 months and there was still debris littering our streets and making them impassible for 6-7 weeks after the Halloween storm. Homes damaged bu bius DPW personnel during what little clean up efforts there were with no notice to the homeowners. 3 month delays on the Main Street lipstick project under his direction. The list goes on and on. Mayor Parisi has failed the residents of West Orange by keeping this incompetent employed.
Joe Krakoviak January 22, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Here's a 20-minute excerpt of the debate on the agenda and town website http://bit.ly/zo72GC. Here's a link to the full January 17 meeting video and agenda http://bit.ly/yKgI1t. Here's a short clip someone posted from 2010 where I complained to the council, before I was elected, about tardy posting of the agenda http://youtu.be/ebEcOcBDcUY (I misspoke when I said property taxes had gone up 7.3 percent since 2001. They had gone up that much every year, on average, since 2001.)


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