LONGPORT – The Board of Commissioners is considering revising its meeting schedule for 2020. During a discussion at the Thursday, Nov. 7 workshop meeting, the board discussed revising the meeting format and received an update on the status of mold remediation at Borough Hall.
The new meeting schedule would replicate meeting formats in Margate and Ventnor where commissioners discuss municipal business immediately before their regular action meetings.
“It would be easier for us, staff and people who come to the meetings,” said Commissioner Jim Leeds who suggested the change.
The change would require just two meetings a month with workshops and regular meetings being held back-to-back, and would eliminate the need separate workshop meetings, which are currently scheduled at 8:30 or 9 a.m. on Thursday mornings a week before the regular meeting.
Workshop meetings are usually more informal where discussion on municipal business flows freely but without public input. Any recommendations for action that result from those discussions are usually put on the next regular meeting agenda where the public can weigh in on topics. In many instances, discussions on certain issues are held numerous times before any action is taken, such as when planning capital projects or discussing the need for new laws or ordinance revisions.
According to Commissioner Dan Lawler, when the current commissioners took over about 12 years ago, commission meetings were held at 7 p.m. but they changed it to 5 p.m. with a workshop at 4:30 p.m. Then, the workshop morphed into its own meeting at either 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. Wednesday mornings, depending on the time of year.
Commissioners agreed they would need more than 30 minutes to discuss issues.
“We need more time at workshops,” Mayor Nicholas Russo said.
Over the last two years, the commission held several workshop meetings where official action was taken, which required advertising in advance in the borough’s official newspapers.
The commission form of government prohibits two of the three commissioners from discussing any business unless it is at an advertised public meeting.
“From a convenience standpoint, a workshop meeting is important to give us time to chat a little bit,” Leeds said. “We can’t do it any other time.”
Engineer Richard Carter said now that Scott Porter has come on board as a part-time administrator, many of the items currently being discussed by the commissioners could be eliminated.
“Now that Scott’s here, a lot of stuff will be filtered through him,” Carter said.
The commissioners agreed to consider holding meetings at 4 p.m. twice a month with the regular meeting immediately following the workshop meeting.
Starting in January 2020, it is likely meetings will be on the first and third Wednesday of the month, although during February, March and April there may only be one meeting on the third Wednesday.
Borough Clerk Monica Kyle will prepare the meeting schedule in the form of a resolution for the commissioners to approve at an upcoming meeting.
In other business, Porter gave an update on the mold remediation at Borough Hall.
Mold issues developed during a power failure over a hot and sticky August weekend and by Monday morning mold was growing on the walls, carpet and furniture. Commission chambers has been sealed off ever since. Additional mold was discovered in the Centennial Room on the second floor of the historic brick structure.
According to Porter, the remediation is “in a holding pattern” until mechanical engineer Mike Toy of Epic Environmental can finalize his recommendations, which include replacing ductwork “that has reached its shelf life” in a section of the building that houses the Police Department. Valves that regulate air flow and temperature to various rooms, such as the police evidence room and computer room, are past their life expectancy, so they should be replaced as well.
The Centennial Room needs a heating system that should be incorporated into the project, he said.
The preliminary cost for the HVAC is about $500,000, with Centennial Hall costing an additional $80,000, Porter said. Epic Environmental also recommended re-insulating chilled water pipes.
Carter said the existing HVAC in the Police Department, which was recently replaced at a cost of $300,000, is large enough to accept the connections to the Centennial Room.
The preliminary estimate does not include the cost of replacing damaged furnishings, interior fit out and rental of trailers while the work is being done, Leeds said.
All told, it could cost as much as $1 million, Lawler said.
“There are other older buildings that are going through this,” Carter said. “Everything was fine 30 years ago, now it is not.”
Mayor Nicholas Russo said there could be a “nexus” between the HVAC problem and employees complaining they are not feeling well.
“We’ve got to move employees out quickly,” Russo said.
The borough is considering temporarily moving police into trailers. The work will take several months to complete, Carter said.
“The importance is that we are moving ahead,” Leeds said.
“All this has to move fairly quickly to get it done by next summer,” Carter said.
Porter also said a dehumidifier and fan was installed in the basement under the Police Department.
Additionally, Carter said the borough would hire a contractor to caulk and waterproof the brick building to eliminate water penetration.
“It was last done about 10 years ago,” he said.