Townwide Meeting Set On Proposed Police, First Responder Building

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Town officials will hold a meeting for all residents on Wednesday, June 26, on the proposed new building for the Verona Police Department, the Verona Rescue Squad and the Verona Fire Department station located near Everett Field. The meeting will be held in the Verona Community Center beginning at 7 p.m.

The town is asking residents who want to come to the meeting to RSVP through this website. You can also ask a question through the link. If you can’t attend in person, there will be a Zoom broadcast through this website.

Township Manager Joseph D’Arco held several smaller meetings on what is now being called the Emergency Services Building earlier this year. There was a meeting for the Verona Lions Club and Junior Women’s Club and, last month, a meeting for people who live near the proposed site of the building, which will be on Pompton Avenue north of the Linden/Cambridge intersection. (That meeting was recorded and you can watch it here.)

The Town Council saw the concept plan for the new building at its December 18, 2023 meeting (You can watch the video of that presentation here). It was designed by Verona-based Solutions Architecture, which also designed the expansion of the Verona Public Library, with input from the three first responder services. Verona officials have posted the concept plan for what was originally called the Public Safety Complex to the township’s website.

According to the 77-page plan, the township had explored more than 20 sites before committing to 217 and 225 Pompton Avenue, two lots that came on the market in February 2023. But none of the other sites could fit the proposed building. One of them was the Lakeside Avenue parking lot for Our Lady of the Lake Church, which the Town Council recently bought to use as municipal parking.

The existing police, Rescue Squad and Fire Station #2 buildings are decades old and in need of extensive repair. The VPD offices are out of compliance with the state Department of Corrections, and both the firehouse and the Rescue Squad building fail to meet current requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

D’Arco has said that neither a firehouse nor a Rescue Squad building that would meet OSHA requirements would fit on the current sites for those buildings. He has also said that, even if the firehouse #2 was completely gutted and rebuilt, a standalone building could cost up to 25% more than the proposed space in the shared services building. He attributed that to duplicate costs for bringing in and staging construction materials and the additional square footage required for redundant infrastructure like toilets, elevators, emergency generators and the like. A standalone Rescue Squad building would have the same issues.

Over the decades, various Town Councils have sought to relocate the first responder services from their old buildings. But new locations were limited and, when properties did appear, the town was either outbid or couldn’t afford the construction. Verona’s municipal finances are in better shape now and the Council has made fixing infrastructure a priority.

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