Post office site project moves forward

Following asbestos abatement, JMF Properties closer to demolishing Maplewood Ave. building

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — While the redevelopment of the former post office site in Maplewood Village has been a topic of conversation for years, the first step in actually demolishing the current building and erecting a mixed-use building has now been taken.

According to documents released by the township, Maplewood Redevelopers LLC, a subsidiary of JMF Properties, hired ABS Environmental Services LLC to abate the asbestos in the existing building — a necessary step prior to demolition — and ABS has completed the abatement process.

Although there is usually a 10-day asbestos-removal notification requirement, in which Maplewood Redevelopers would have had to post signage alerting local residents of the impending abatement, the requirement was waived following a letter from Kevin Codey of Maplewood Redevelopers to the New Jersey Department of Labor Asbestos Control and Licensing division.

In the letter, Codey requested the 10-day notification requirement be waived due to the “emergency” circumstances.

“We have experienced a water leak which got the asbestos wet and therefore needs to be removed immediately,” Codey wrote. “We are under an extreme time constraint and this is holding up other work that needs to be completed so we would like to get the asbestos removed as soon as possible.”

On Feb. 1, Scott Higgins of ABS wrote Codey to tell him that the asbestos had been successfully removed from approximately 210 linear feet of pipe insulation; 1,200 square feet of floor tile from the basement lunchroom; 1,200 square feet of floor tile from the second floor; 26 “elbows” from the first floor; and window glazing from 20 metal windows.

To move construction along, the township is also seeking to purchase the Maplewood Avenue parking lot that stretches from behind Village Coffee to behind Arturo’s in order to add a new sewer line, which is needed for the post office site project. According to the township, the new sewer line is necessary as the extra sewer water from the project could overwhelm the current sewer on Maplewood Avenue.

Maplewood has been leasing the parking lot from its various owners for $11,820.29 per year; its lease expires next month. At the Feb. 2 Township Committee meeting, Mayor Vic DeLuca indicated that there would “be a significant bump in what we are paying for the lease.”

To purchase the property, the town would likely pay $641,200 for it; this number was derived from a property value assessment submitted by Hendricks Appraisal Co. LLC.

“Over time it would be more economical to pay to buy it rather than leasing it,” DeLuca said at the meeting. “It would assure that there would be public parking back there and no future property owner could hold up his or her piece of property and get into a protracted debate with the town.”

Also, the township announced Feb. 5 that the Construction Mitigation Committee, which will oversee the construction process and which was created in February 2014, will now meet weekly. According to the township, the CMC will meet to address issues related to demolition and the subsequent construction.

The CMC will be chaired by Annette DePalma, director of community development; Rosanne Hochuli from the Engineering Department will serve as secretary. CMC members include DeLuca; Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams; business Administrator Joseph Manning; construction official Robert Mittermaier; Police Department representatives Chief Robert Cimino, Capt. Dawn Williams, Capt. Josh Cummis and Sgt. Chris Black; Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt; fire inspector Robert Conklin; Public Works Director Calvin Bell; Village Alliance Manager Julie Doran; business owners Fred Shandler of Arturo’s and Mary Vayas of Village Trattoria; and resident Joe DePlasco.

In addition to the CMC, the township has set up a specific Web page for the project to apprise residents of upcoming work and other information.

“As the construction project moves forward, we will provide the most up to date information available, including the timing of demolition and construction, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, parking availability, and all matters affecting public safety that will impact the village during demolition and construction,” the township wrote in a Feb. 5 press release on its website.

Among the announcements, DeLuca said Feb. 2 that the township would be creating a temporary loading zone in front of Kings and Bank of America from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays. With construction vehicles being parked in the lot next to Ricalton Square, Kings has lost the space it previously used to unload its merchandise. Until Kings can begin using that lot again, the parking spaces in front of Kings will be designated for loading and unloading in the mornings.

“We think that there would be minimal disruption,” DeLuca said at the meeting. “The customer base before 10 a.m. at Kings is not all that much.”