The city has shelved its plan to start an in-house demolition program due to lack of money, according to municipal officials.
Municipal officials wanted to use a zero-interest $2 million loan obtained through the state’s Urban and Rural Centers Unsafe Buildings Demolition Bond Act to purchase equipment like excavator and dump truck to start the program.
Business administrator Nellie Pou said the loan program’s terms did not allow the funds to be used for equipment purchase. Those funds could only be used to conduct demolitions, she said.
Municipal officials had said the program was presented to the state. However, a final version of the proposal has was never submitted for the state’s review, according to a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
The demolition program was proposed by former fire chief Michael Postorino. He reckoned an in-house demolition unit could save hundreds of thousands of dollars for the city.
For example, the city spent $840,000 to demolish hazardous and dangerous buildings in 2016. He suggested in a single year the city would see a return. He estimated the city would need $500,000 in capital investment to purchase equipment and another $100,000 to properly dispose of debris to create the program.
Postorino at the time said the city was looking for possible grant opportunities through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and also the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
The business administrator would not say the proposal is dead. She said the plan can be revived in the future. The city may have to borrow money to purchase the needed equipment to start the program.
Council members have been reluctant to approve borrowing measures following mayor Jose “Joey” Torres $35 million bond to repair primary roads.
The proposal had wide support from council members.
Councilman William McKoy, who favors an in-house demolition program, said he would revive the plan if elected mayor. He sees an in-house program as a job creator and a money saver.