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Montgomery Twp Breaks Ground on New Municipal Complex

About 60 Somerset County and local officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the $40 million Montgomery Township municipal complex on Thursday, October 15. Speeches, chocolate shovels, and photo opportunities commemorated the day at the 45-acre project site, located at the corner of Route 206 and Orchard Road.

Chocolate shovels attached to a keepsake postcard were offered to all who attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, guests were limited; masks and social distancing required. Montgomery High School students Grace Johnson and Jordan Spector M.C.'d the event. Speakers included Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson, Somerset County Freeholder Melonie Marano, Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer, and Township Administrator Donato Nieman. The event included a photo opportunity with ceremonial hard hats and shovels.

Nieman summed up the purpose of the new municipal complex: “This will provide residents and businesses with a much-needed public gathering place in town. Plus, well-designed facilities are absolutely essential to efficient municipal operations, so that we can fully serve the needs of the Montgomery community now and in the future."

Speaking on behalf of the Montgomery Township Committee, Mayor Sadaf Jaffer said, “Thank you to all the elected leaders (past and present), professionals, and community members who are gathered here as we break ground on a new municipal center for Montgomery Township, which has been in the works for years.”

The new municipal complex "reflects the best of Montgomery," Jaffer said. While 2020 has been a difficult year, the new municipal center "is proof that "Montgomery's future is bright." She added that the complex will showcase the diversity of the township and its "togetherness."

Montgomery Township formed a cooperative agreement with Somerset County to purchase the former world headquarters of ConvaTec in 2016. The Somerset County Improvement Authority (SCIA) purchased the land in 2017 for $5.9 million.

DMR Architects of Hasbrouck Heights designed the municipal complex, with public input into the design process. See architect's renderings. The complex should be completed by September 2022. The building will include a police station; public library, and municipal offices.

Kurt Verheilig of DMR Architects, who designed the building, said there will be two access roads into the complex, both from Orchard Road, with signs identifying which entrance is for the police station. The library will face Orchard Road and will be able to be seen from Route 206. The police department will be located behind the library, he said.

Township municipal administrative offices and additional meeting spaces for the municipal building will be on the second floor. There will be walkways and sidewalks around the building with benches at different locations. A rain garden is also incorporated into the plan.

Bid documents were released this summer and 13 bidders responded.  On August 26 the construction contract for the 62,500 square foot building was awarded to Dobco Inc. of Wayne for $25.4 million. 

Of special interest: The property has a revolutionary war era cemetery.

Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson and Somerset County Freeholder Melonie Marano, joined the mayor in making celebratory remarks.

“Today’s Montgomery Municipal Center groundbreaking ceremony is proof that even with the unprecedented constraints imposed by the COVID pandemic, Somerset County is committed to moving forward and improving services for our constituents,” said Robinson. “We are proud to have been able to work with Mayor Jaffer and her administration throughout the project and look forward to standing here on the day it is completed.”

The Somerset County Library System branch will include small study rooms, a conference room, a children’s section, a lounge area for parents and casual readers, and lockers outside for after-hours pick-up of books via a code sent to mobile phone or device.

“This project shows how well local and county government can work together, providing state of the art municipal offices and innovative library services that will benefit the community for decades,” said Freeholder Marano, who serves as a liaison to both the Somerset County Improvement Authority (SCIA) and Somerset County Library System.  “This is truly a joint effort, with Somerset County Improvement authority financing helping build a municipal complex for Montgomery businesses and families that will house a library for residents here and in surrounding communities to enjoy.”■


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