Western New Jersey

P'burg moving toward a downtown municipal building

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Phillipsburg could be weeks away from moving town employees downtown after council authorized the mayor to move on the Main Street office building.

Mayor Stephen Ellis can now negotiate to acquire the Mercer Street portion of the Main Street dental complex to move high risk town employees out of the municipal building on Corliss Avenue.

“We’ll get those people out of there as soon as possible,” said council president Todd Tersigni.

Town employee Sandra Callery asked when she and others in the high risk area of the municipal building could expect to move.

But with the numbers and document still needing to be drawn up, the answer isn’t as clear cut as Callery - and members of the audience - wished.

Unable to give a precise timeline of events, Ellis said that if everything went well, employees could expect the new building in a week.

“We’re tired of waiting,” Callery said.

Following the current course of action, town employees with offices at the highest risk for black mold will move first to the Mercer Street offices, which are adjacent to the soon-to-be vacated dental office. Once the dental office moves out and the building is refurbished for town use, the first wave of employees can transfer across the street to permanent offices.

The process would take approximately two months.

A second wave of employees would then move directly into the new buildings. Mayoral offices will be located at the Main Street building, but OEM and code inspection are slated to be permanently in the Mercer Street offices.

While the majority of the police department would move to the Armory building alongside the Department of Public Works, one squad is assigned to the Main Street offices.

In other news, council discussion on an updated political banner ordinance drew ire from the crowd. Residents objected, saying the council should enforce existing ordinances before championing changes to existing ones.

The political banner ordinance, residents claimed, was one instance of many where town officials didn’t take action against violations.

“Ordinances aren’t enforced,” said resident Bernie Rooney. “They haven’t been for years.”

Resident Ed Bullock said problems in the town wouldn’t go away until the town’s leaders enforced the image they wanted to create. Doing so would eliminate the problem and protect residents who are doing the right thing, he said.

Bullock said other New Jersey municipalities sent a tough message to code violators that Phillipsburg should imitate.

“They don’t tolerate the crap we do,” Bullock said. “They just don’t.”

Ellis said the town is hiring an additional code inspector to give the department more range within the town.

Ellis also reminded residents that efforts to stop illegal dumping had netted the town $15,000 in fines and brought the problem to a near stop. The town is turning its eye on other dumpers and violations, he said.

“We’re not going to stop,” he said.

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