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Will Proposed Development Tax Emergency Services

If approved, will the development of the United Water property impact emergency services?

In her of the firm Dolan & Dean Consulting Engineers LLC, testified that additional traffic generated by the proposed development, the levels of service and delay for the River Road, Cecchino Drive and the Madison Avenue intersections will not cause any change in service.

According to Dolan, her study determined that all approaches will operate at "acceptable levels of service or better with the addition of site traffic." 

However, local emergency service officials agree that placing a 221 unit residential housing unit, a 70,500 sq. foot supermarket and a 4300 sq. ft. bank where nothing currently exists will not only increase traffic and change the character of that part of town, but increase the need for emergency services to that area of town, as well.

According to Police Chief Frank Papapietro, the northern sector of town where the development is proposed has always been considered the quieter sector, unlike the southern part of town where Shop Rite, the strip malls, and Brookchester and Dorchester put out far more calls for emergency services. 

Increased traffic alone means increased calls for service to emergency services. Residents have seen how a car accident involving a pedestrian on River River, such as the , brings out police, ambulance and in many cases, the fire department. Not only can one accident clog River Road, one of the town's main arteries and a familiar cut-through road for cars accessing and exiting Route 4, but it can involve many of the town's emergency resources. It also diverts traffic onto the local roads. 

Below is a list of calls for service for the Police Dpt., Fire Dpt. and Ambulance Corp. (year-to-date) to give readers a baseline perspective in considering the potential increase in calls for service should Hekemian be granted the variances he is seeking for the proposed development. 

  • Police: 5192 calls for service
  • Fire: 80 calls for service
  • Ambulance: 592 calls for service

During the months that Dolan used for her traffic study, Sept. 2011; and Feb.1 to April 30, 2012 NMPD responded to 40 calls for service at the current Shop Rite location. These calls included ambulance assistance, disputes, hit and run accidents and shoplifiting.

There were 60 reported traffic accidents during the months of Dolan's study, some of which included pedestrians.

An increase in population will generally result in the rise of calls for emergency services. If the proposed 221 unit residential complex is approved, will this result in the need for additional police hires, firefighters and ambulance personnel? And what about the infrastructure of each building? Can they safely operate under the increased demands? And there is also the cost of upgrading and purchasing equipment.

Recently, the mayor and council agreed to the formation of a that have structural concerns and need to be brought into compliance with the codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Also, within the next two years, Company 2 will have to replace their current tower ladder truck that is over 20 years old and is no longer in compliance with federal standards. Firefighters are required to sit seatbelted inside the truck, a feature that extends the length of the truck well past the limits of the firehouse engine room.

The Police Dpt. is also in dire need of space. Currently, police headquarters is not ADA compliant, lacks a juvenile holding area, has no secure court entrance to transport prisoners from holding cell to court, has no private area for domestic crime victims, prisoners have been secured to the lunch room table when there is no more room in the holding cell area, and there are no female facilities -- such as a restroom -- within police headquarters. Female prisoners need to be escorted to use the facilities in the public area of Borough Hall. 

Additionally, if the proposed development is approved, an increase in population may translate into the need for the town to incease its headcount of emergency service workers. 

miriam pickett August 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Once again Ann, you are spot on in your coverage of this development proposal. Those residents and elected officials who think that somehow we will gain ratables from the additional apartment unit and bank building are not taking into account the increase in required services. Yes, the new ShopRite will be bigger and be rated accordingly, but the old ShopRite site will remain empty and the ratables gained will be negligible. This entire proposed development is completely bogus from every way its looked at.
Lori Barton August 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Of course the need for emergency services will increase if this development is allowed to proceed. Court costs associated with a rise in crime will also increase. And who will pay those increased costs through higher taxes? All of us who are already overtaxed! And each year that this development exists, it will depreciate in value, shifting more and more of the tax burden onto residential property owners. This is a no-brainer. Just say no to this development!
robert byrnes August 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Just an FYI, the fire department and ambulance corps are volunteer and have no salaries.
Ann Piccirillo August 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM
That is true. But the town makes financial contributions on their behalf to LOSAP “Emergency Services Volunteer Length of Service Award Program." LOSAP provides tax-deferred income benefits to active volunteer members of an emergency service organization. An emergency service organization generally includes all forms of volunteer fire and first aid organizations. The tax-deferred income benefits for emergency services volunteers come from contributions made solely by the governing body of the municipality on behalf of volunteers. Additionally, there is the cost of equipment upgrade, and of course the potential need for larger headquarters for police, fire and ambulance.
TommyIce August 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM
With a development of that scope and size, how long can those two services remain volunteer? As it stands now, there are not enough volunteers for the ambulance corp and we utilize Holy Name Hospital's EMT services daily--I service I would be surprised to find comes at no cost to NM. How long before we need to go to a paid EMS/Fire department. Who will pay their salaries and BENEFITS?
miriam pickett August 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM
And, we have trouble recruiting new volunteers now. How can we possibly fill the needs of this development with services that are already understaffed.?
AML August 28, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Everyone who has commented on this excellent and informative article by Ann (thank you Ann) has been 1000% spot-on. The traffic engineer, Elizabeth Dolan, is a paid Hekemian puppet. Hekemian pulls the strings and she sings his song. I have researched her track record for commercial developments, and guess what???? I cannot find any, I repeat, any reports that she conducted whereby the development would have a negative impact on the traffic flow! Now what does that tell you, other than the fact that Dolan's reports defies all human logic! "In her book", 500 trips to the supermarket + 500 additional trips = 500 supermarket trips; there would be no increase or impact. A rational, smart human being would know that the answer would be 1000, an increase in supermarket trips. I hope she brings a calculator to the next meeting to aid her with simple arithmetic. Common sense would dictate that there would be a substantial increase in emergency personnel and cost. We can kiss the wonderful volunteers goodbye!
Denise August 28, 2012 at 03:54 PM
New Milford is slowly becomeing another Hackensack, Paterson, Passaic, Clifton etc....if this debacle goes through. Crime, theft, muggings, car accidents etc. will become 10 fold. Don't let anybody tell you that we don't have drugs & dealers in town either. My father, was a volunteer in FD Co#1 on Center St.....He is not just rolling, he is spinning in his grave right now....
Ulises August 29, 2012 at 02:04 AM
This article sums up what many concerned citizens have been stating all along. This proposed development, including the original one without the apartments, is a mistake. The traffic impact will be mainly driven by the ShopRite. The strain on services, road repairs, increase in flooding, etc... will offset the ratables generated by developing this land, which is why the M&C should not rezone this property to commercial.
Denise August 29, 2012 at 07:27 PM
What Ulises is saying is that this will be a washout......."as in" the flooding of of New Milford.....
Sam B. September 02, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Hopefully, the residents of NM will not buy into increased ratables lowering our taxes. If this was true the M&C would be, as the saying goes, "shouting it from the rooftops". Subrizi and Berner are ineffective leaders and the rest of them say nothing and appear to be hiding out somewhere. I disregarded previous posts mentioning under the table dealings, but now I'm starting to think there may be some credibility to it. The M&C should take heed of the ever-growing SOD signs. The people of NM are sending you a message.
James F September 04, 2012 at 03:58 AM
I'm sorry, but I have to keep bringing it up. LET'S HAVE THE FBI INVESTIGATE the project and the parties involved. It can't hurt!!!

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