Summit capital requests include $12 million for parking garage

SUMMIT, N.J. — Spending requests from the Summit Police and Fire departments have dropped dramatically for next year but proposals by the parking and sewer utilities have made up the difference, with total appeals for $18.5 million, $1 million more than was approved in 2019.

All Summit department officials disclosed their wish lists at the Dec. 11 capital budget hearing, the biggest of which was more than $12 million for a new parking structure.

Rita McNany, Summit’s parking services manager, discussed projected improvements to the Summit East Broad Street Parking Lot at the meeting, including an area survey in 2009, changes made to the city during the last 10 years, and a 2014 parking assessment.

“There wasn’t money prior to my time, going back into the infrastructure for the parking lots, parking garages,” she said. “We started in 2005, each year $50,000 in capital budgets to maintain these parking lots.”

This year, the Summit Parking Services Agency is requesting $12 million for a new parking structure and $50,000 for parking lot maintenance.

“We did a study in 2009, and out of that study came a lot of recommendations for improvements. … The last thing that we haven’t done was to build a garage.”

While a downtown assessment study in 2014 did not strictly address parking, parking was included, and the study showed a need for more downtown employee parking.

“At this point, we are left with the Broad Street East Lot … if we were to build, would be looking at a six-story parking garage,” McNany said, adding that the city will need a traffic study to determine if the site is fit for a parking garage. “Currently, we have 500 vehicles entering and exiting the Broad Street garage.”

Councilman Greg Vartan noted that there is a need for road improvement in the city as well.
“The people who pay for parking, they’re the ones who can benefit from the Lyft service,” he said.
The Department of Community Services and Technology came in with the second highest request, at about $3.4 million; with $2.3 million of that for infrastructure, $325,000 for vehicles and equipment, and $675,000 for buildings. The infrastructure includes crosswalk beacons, crosswalk visibility, sidewalk repairs and intersection lighting. Officials also pointed out at the meeting that the city’s stormwater and sewer systems are 100 years old and in constant need of improvements.

This year’s proposals vary significantly from last year, when the Common Council eventually approved the initial payments on a new $11.5 million firehouse. This year, the Fire Department is requesting a relatively small $139,500 for gear and fire hose replacement and $55,000 for a support vehicle. The current vehicle, a Ford Explorer, is 14 years old and two years overdue for replacement, and the department will look into getting a hybrid support car. It also is seeking $40,000 for rescue equipment and $10,500 for small equipment.

Police Chief Robert Weck said at the meeting that the department’s computer system has been going down for years. The department is requesting a total of $85,000, of which $17,000 would be to replace about 12 desktop computers, as well as laptop computer replacements, and $68,000 for mobile data terminals. The department will not be able to resell the outdated computers as the majority of the desktop computers are seven to eight years old and use the Windows 7 operating system. Computers today are sold with Windows 10.

Director of Community Programs Mark Ozorski said his requested $2.12 million includes more than $1 million for Tatlock Park redevelopment, as part of a $4.5 million project to be spread across the next six years. In addition, he requested $700,000 to upgrade the municipal golf course entrance and funds to resurface the Summit Family Aquatic Center pool.

“We are requesting an extra $250,000 this year to do a total resurfacing of all the tiles on the pool. We will look out to bid in the spring and the summer and start the project the day after Labor Day,” Ozorski said.

The Department of Community Programs also requested grant work and fundraising for citywide playground upgrades. Making improvements to the playgrounds may prove difficult because many equipment parts are no longer being manufactured. The department aims to make Mabie Park wheelchair accessible and sensory-friendly. The department also wants to add additional resurfacing to the Mabie basketball court, as well as make improvements to the picnic area drainage and plantings.

Other park improvements include installing lighting and replacing the track at Investors Bank Field. The last time the track was resurfaced was in 2006, although the lifespan of this track is six to eight years. The track needs a number of repairs to patches.

“The lines are fading, which is important for the high school track team. … Overall it’s $415,000. … We received a $62,000 grant recently from Union County that will go toward that as well,” Ozorski said.

The Memorial Field basketball courts were resurfaced in 2006, and the projected cost to do the work again is $120,000. There are currently large cracks and heaving in the asphalt, which made them impossible to repair.

“As you can tell, there are cracks throughout, the color is fading,” Ozorski said. “The backboards are still usable, but they’re not great.”