Ho-Ho-Kus September 16, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • Page 5 Westwood firm receives contract for streetscape by Jennifer Crusco Conquest Industries, LLC of Westwood has received the contract for Phases I and II of the Sheridan Avenue streetscape project in downtown Ho-Ho-Kus. The borough council rescheduled its work session from Sept. 15 to Sept. 8 to award the contract within 10 days of the bid openings, as required. Councilmen Gordon Hamm and Lee Flemming abstained from the vote. Hamm confirmed that he did not vote as he is a minority owner of the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Tavern, located in the center of the borough’s business district, and did not wish to give the appearance of a conflict of interests. Flemming told Villadom TIMES he had never been in favor of the streetscape project “because even with the grant support it seems expensive and somewhat unnecessary. To that end, 50-50 grants inspire local spending because (municipalities) have to spend the money to get the money…Taxpayers also pay for the ‘free’ portion as well, just not through direct (municipal) tax levies. This all coupled with a government mentality which basically surrenders to the ‘apply for it or lose it’ nature of this funding (and its belief that its done its job if it continues to spend both municipal and grant taxpayer dollars) represents to me what’s wrong with all government spending during these difficult times - especially when our (municipal) rates are rising at a rate much greater than inflation as our property values continue to fall.” The councilman added his view that “there really is no strategy here because the ideas follow the money and I’ve never seen any evidence that economic activity is spurred by the expenditure of such tax dollars. That said, if there is some economic benefit that will accrue to our business community it is most likely to fall to our councilman’s restaurant.” Flemming said he had never seen the final site plan, adding, “nor was it ever presented to me.” Deemed the lowest responsible, responsive bidder of the seven contractors to submit proposals, Conquest Industries’ base bid was $524,796. The company additionally bid $7,800 for two alternates, which include trash receptacles and benches. Ho-Ho-Kus Borough Engineer David Hals, who attended last week’s meeting, explained that the borough has received a $150,000 grant for Phase I and an additional $175,000 grant for Phase II. These awards are outright grants, Hals said, and do not require the borough to provide matching funds. Hals added that the two phases were combined with the goal of receiving favorable bids. The engineer said he had estimated the cost of the project at $540,000 and was pleased with the proposal from Conquest. He told the council that, beyond the base bids, three alternate elements had been considered. The alternates included benches, trash receptacles, and a four-inch decorative granite band that would have been installed near the strip of pavers. Hals said the estimated $16,000 cost of the granite element led to the elimination of that item, and the recommendation to proceed only with the other two alternates. Mayor Thomas Randall noted that it has taken the borough over four years to get to this stage of the streetscape project. Plans for the Ho-Ho-Kus Business District include improvements to both sides of Sheridan Avenue from Franklin Turnpike to Warren Avenue. Hals said the construction crew would be moving the curb closer to the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn, and providing bump-outs in various locations. Curbs and sidewalks will be realigned to meet Bergen County’s design plans, which are to be completed at a future date. Hals added that the work on Orvil Court would include the realignment of curbs, and the redirection of some parking to include some angled spaces. The engineer noted that some additional area would be added to the Ho-Ho-Kus Town Green, and explained that concrete tree vaults will be added to the east side of Sheridan Avenue. Trees that are in containers will be placed in the vaults, and could eventually be moved and planted elsewhere as they become too large for their containers. Plans also call for the installation of paver sidewalks designed in a basket-weave pattern, paver insets in the crosswalks, and the installation of additional Victorianstyle street lights. Phase I includes Sheridan Avenue, and Phase II includes Orvil Court and portions of Sycamore Avenue. Phase III, which was not included in the newlyawarded contract, will include Warren Avenue and part of Sycamore. Maple Avenue, North Franklin Turnpike, East Franklin Turnpike, and a portion of Warren Avenue are being considered for future improvements. Councilman Flemming asked Hals about the borough’s out-of-pocket cost, which the engineer said would be approximately $325,000. Asked about the timing of the work, Hals said the contractor would make that decision, as the borough had not outlined a timetable. Hals estimated that drainage and curbing projects would probably be addressed first, possibly as early as next month, with the concrete work to follow this fall, or possibly in the spring, depending on weather conditions. He said the contractor could be working into mid-December. “We will have a meeting with the businesses so they understand what will be done, and address their concerns,” Hals added, noting that the local business owners would be kept apprised of the progress on this project. 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