Western New Jersey

Phillipsburg officials: municipal building search isn't over just yet

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Phillipsburg officials said the search for a new municipal building is not yet over, despite the looming promise of a feasibility study.

Council President Todd Tersigni and Mayor Stephen Ellis plan to tour a recently-vacated dental office downtown; they were chided by the president of the Phillipsburg Downtown Association.

“I don’t think it would hurt,” Ellis said. “If anything, we’re thorough.”

The Rev. William Slack, a 20-year resident, said he was disappointed by the council’s seeming decision to move the municipal building to the armory.

Slack argued that moving the municipal building downtown would bring people, shops and restaurants back to the area. And the dental office, with 14,000 square feet and an elevator, may be their missed opportunity.

“If downtown doesn’t revive, Phillipsburg isn’t going to revive,” he said.

Councilman Mark Lutz cautioned that the town already owns the armory property.

With the Department of Public Works already stationed there - and the police department planned for the old armory building -- creating a municipal complex on town-owned property could be the better plan.

However, current interest in the armory doesn’t mean the town isn’t interested, he said.

“We’re trying to come downtown but it seems like it doesn’t want to work,” Lutz said.

Anchor also, town council approved the first reading of a salary ordinance that will increase the town’s pay scale for pool and playground workers.

Under Ordinance 2017-04, lifeguard pay would no longer be capped at minimum wage, but would be set on a sliding scale running up to $25 per hour.

The rate had been set at $8.44, which helped explain why only three people applied for the 2016 season, said Mayor Stephen Ellis.

Pool maintenance, manager and playground leader positions will also see pay increases if the ordinance passes at its second reading.

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