Summit OKs $52 million budget, with firehouse

SUMMIT, NJ — The Common Council unanimously approved a nearly $52 million municipal budget at its April 23 regular meeting, allocating initial money for the construction of a new $11.8 million firehouse on Broad Street.
The budget, which was first unveiled at the March 19 council meeting, includes a municipal tax increase of 1 percent and comes in at $51,984,799, including the first-year outlays for a $16.8 million capital budget, a more than 200-percent jump from the previous year.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance to purchase the property at 7 Cedar Street, adjacent to the rear of the current firehouse on Broad Street, for $1.55 million.

“This budget is an investment budget and the reason I say that is because one of the biggest components that you see is dealing with setting aside the reserve associated with the construction of the new fire station,” council President David Naidu said at the meeting, adding that the reserve is included in this year’s capital budget because the new firehouse must be completed before the current one is demolished for the city’s Broad Street West redevelopment plan.

The new firehouse will be located on Broad Street adjacent to the train station parking lot, with construction slated to begin next year. It is anticipated to take 18 months to complete.

“We are looking to the future with this and it’s part of the redevelopment plan,” Councilwoman Beth Little, chairwoman of the council’s Finance Committee, said of the new firehouse. She added that, without the firehouse, the capital budget would have decreased as compared to the previous year.

“This budget addresses the future and is setting Summit up in a great way to provide services but do it in a way that is fiscally responsible,” she added.

Naidu said the real estate acquisition is a key component to the redevelopment, which Mayor Nora Radest announced had been deemed consistent with Summit’s Master Plan in a unanimous vote at the city’s April 22 Planning Board meeting.
“As stated before, the redevelopment plan does not contain specifics of the ultimate redevelopment, but rather it is the framework for the redevelopment agreement, which will be negotiated between the city and one or more developers,” Radest said at the council meeting.

The redevelopment includes plans for residential, retail and commercial projects. The area includes City Hall, the library, firehouse and post office, a 125-unit senior housing complex managed by the Summit Housing Authority, and the local YMCA.
Designated as an “area in need of redevelopment” in September 2017 by the council, the area contains 16 lots, a little more than 10 acres of privately owned land and 6 acres of city property between Maple Street and Springfield Avenue.

The plans call for the 10 acres to be split into four subdistricts, each with its own set of guidelines for public open space, residential use and parking requirements.

Privately owned businesses that are also part of the existing area include: Belle Faire Cleaners, Reincarnation Salon, 7-Eleven, the Bradley, Brough & Dangler Funeral Home and its driveway, medical offices and Otterstedt Insurance. The plan is expected to come before the council for a second reading and public hearing Tuesday, May 7.