CLARK, NJ — Plans for a new police station have been scaled down to one floor from three while the cost has more than doubled from a low estimate of $3.5 million to about $8.25 million, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso disclosed at the Township Council’s June 17 meeting.
The announcement comes nearly a year after plans were unveiled to replace the 60-year-old station on Westfield Avenue next to Arthur L. Johnson High School. The plan is to build the new station behind the existing one. When the new building is ready, the police will move in and the old building will be razed to be utilized as a parking lot, the mayor said.
“I believe, as mayor, that we’re going to be asking this township to be spending more money on one project than I’ve spent in my 19 years as mayor,” Bonaccorso said at the meeting. “We’re doing this on the basis of need.”
When the plans were first introduced in July 2018, they included a three-story building, but Bonaccorso said that the cost for the project quickly increased with each additional floor and that a $350,000 elevator would have to be installed.
Bonaccorso originally estimated the cost at between $3.5 and $4.5 million.
The new station will be approximately 15,000 square feet and will also house the Clark Municipal Court.
Bonaccorso said it would cost at least $4 million to renovate the current building, which he described as “deplorable.”
“The town and police department need this,” Bonaccorso reiterated.
Throughout his presentation, Bonaccorso displayed pictures of the existing police station, which has jail cells that are not up to code as well as outdated heating and air-conditioning units and boiler room.
“You can literally stand next to these in the winter time and feel the breeze blowing through,” Bonaccorso said of the windows at the current station.
John Laezza, the Clark business administrator, said at the July 2018 meeting that the New Jersey Department of Corrections had inspected the current jail and “gave us a report that indicated it needed a great deal of work to conform to prison standards.”
The new building will have a brick exterior and large columns in the front.
“I did not want a state-of-the-art building with a lot of glass and slanted ceilings,” Bonaccorso said, adding that he was in charge of the design of the outside of the new building.
“I believe police departments should be distinctive looking … I’m just in love with this design,” he added.
The proposed new station would also include a locker room for female officers. Currently there are no female officers in Clark.
Bonaccorso said the township hopes to break ground on the project in mid-September and that it will take a little more than a year to construct.
According to Laezza, there will be no increase on local taxes due to the project for at least 17 years.
“I believe this project will maintain our capital debt service program for 17 years without a tax increase,” he said.
At the meeting, Bonaccorso also said the township will be doing roadwork on Wilson Drive, a side street in between the ALJ High School and the police station, and that a traffic light will also be installed for increased safety.