Following multiple meetings at which audience members — particularly resident Doug Wicks — and township officials debated whether an asphalt or tile surface would be best for repairing a cracked and closed hockey rink, the Township Committee on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to plans for an asphalt top over a new drainage system.
Tom Timko reminded township officials that at the first of last the proposal that came in for a tile surface with accompanying drainage work was for $173,000 — even more than the $142,000 figure rejected by the Township Committee at that time. The second set of bids improperly filled out paperwork, officials said then.
On Tuesday, the Township Committee approved a $50,000 appropriation to add to $125,000 already set aside to completely overhaul the surface, an underlying drainage system and moldy sideboards at the rink, built in 2000 and closed since 2010.
Timko said that a persistent drainage problem at the rink in Harry Dunham Park must be solved before any new surface replaces the cracked and uneven pavement in place now. "If you put the tiles there, you will just have water laying on the tiles," he said.
The township may want to consider laying a tile surface over the asphalt at some future date after the drainage problem is addressed, Timko said.
The next set of bids for the job, already advertised, will be opened April 25, Timko said in an email on Wednesday. He said he hopes a contract would be awarded at a Township Committee meeting in May, and construction could start soon after contracts were signed.
But Wicks, who has outlined his reasons for recommending that the tiles should be placed over the existing surface at half the cost and comments before the committee, said he does not see that the drainage problem exists.
On Tuesday, Wicks tried unsuccessfully to persuade township officials to seek an alternate set of bids seeking a proposal for resurfacing with the plastic tiles.
In addition, he disputed Timko's description of the tiles as "impervious" and said that the tiles — used in other rinks in New Jersey, including Green Brook — instead are porous enough to allow water to drain through.
Another resident, Paul Damurjian, said he had visited the locked Basking Ridge rink during the rain, and had seen rainwater drain off to the perimeter. He suggested a French drain around the edges of the rink might alleviate drainage issues. He asked the Township Committee members to view the facility in the rain before taking a vote. "This project is a huge engineering project that's not necessary," he said.
Timko, who said that the rink is not sufficiently pitched to drain to the edges, said that cracks and staining on the asphalt indicate where water pools. "By putting tiles on there, you are just putting a band-aid on it," he said of the surface.
Township Committee members also said they had viewed the rink after rain, and had seen pooling water. Township Committeeman John Malay said he frequently walks his dog in the area, and "I have often noticed standing water."
Mayor Mary Pavlini said there is a documented drainage problem at the location. "The soils don't perc(olate)," she said.
Pavlini said the issue has been under discussion for a "long time now."
Deputy Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said she had visited the Green Brook facility. But she said that her own investigation into information indicated that the surface could be "unsuitable and dangerous when moist," and that the effects of direct sunlight would not be covered by the warranty.
Township Committeeman Scott Spitzer said he has doubts about installing the tile surface, both because of safety issues raised by Gaziano and because he felt the proposed warranty from the manufacturer is deficient.
Township Committeeman John Carpenter, who said he has roller bladed at both the Harry Dunham rink and on the plastic tiles, said that other information on the tiles indicates the surface requires frequent cleaning, with some specialized equipment, that could contribute to continuing maintenance costs.
Carpenter also said that investigating proposals for repairing the rink had been a lengthy and interesting process. "Basically, it's an asphalt parking lot that's generated so much passion," he observed.
Wicks said in an email on Wednesday that, "The Township committee again choose to ignore people very familiar and with first hand knowledge of the tile system and to solely rely upon the inducements of the engineer who I feel lacks... the experience, knowledge or qualification [to] specify a rink overlay system but also has conducted no reliable and meaningful drainage tests." He said he asked whether the bid package complies with the open and unfettered competition for bidding that the law requires.
On Tuesday night, Pavlini made a strong objection to Wick's assertion that the bidding proceeding over the past year has not complied with the law. She also defended Timko's work and previous engineering and sewerage projects she said had benefitted the township. She said Wicks was "unfair" in accusing officials of being confused or misdirected.
I respect the fact that the Township Committee members offered their justification for their votes," Damurjian said in an e-mail on Wednesday. "It is my opinion that the drainage issue is exaggerated, but it was debated and the decision makers decided otherwise."
He said he was happy he had made an effort to offer alternative, cost effective and technically advanced solutions for the taxpayers. "I look forward to the new rink in any form that it is restored," Damurjian said. "I can’t wait until they put a dome over it to protect the new asphalt surface from the environment."