HOWELL – Howell council members and officials recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Howell Township Emergency Management Annex building located at 51 Windeler Rd.
In attendance were members of the governing body including Mayor Theresa Berger, deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro, Councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell, township manager Brian Geoghegan, director of community development Jim Herrman, and Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, alongside various members of Howell Emergency Management Services (EMS) and Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Former mayor William Gotto was also present to say a few words.
“There was a vision for the building and a bunch of people who were really instrumental [in the project],” said Gotto. “It wasn’t easy.”
Gotto described the building as previously having no floors, and no heat or lighting; it was primarily a storage space that needed a lot of renovation. “It really was kind of an embarrassment for the town, and to see what it’s become now is just fantastic,” he said.
He also noted that the annex is on Board of Education property.
Both Gotto and Herrman emphasized that the development of the EMS Annex has been in the works for many years.
Herrman said that the original building was built in 2005 and the offices inside came around 2007. Due to the following recession during 2008-2009, construction on the building was halted. Around 2011, the township decided to focus on the construction of the Global Building, which ended up furthering the halt on the EMS building development, he said.
In 2015, the township finally received the funding to finish the project and, in 2017, a contractor was hired to complete the construction and renovation on the building. All in all, the project cost the township approximately $500,000, said Herrman.
The new building will be home to a combination of EMS and OEM services. EMS Director Peggy Doyle said that the new location for EMS is much more central and will make it easier to get around town as fast as possible.
“As it was, the police department made room for them, but as they’re growing, the police department’s growing,” said Geoghegan.
Doyle noted that the EMS had an office and some storage space in the police station; however, there was no parking for the ambulances. EMS would simply park the ambulances in the regular parking lot at the station.
The new annex not only provides housing for the four ambulances indoors, it also provides office space for EMS and OEM workers, showers and bathrooms, a break room and a training room.
OEM employees work mostly out of town hall and were running their equipment out of the building when it acted mainly as a storage space. Now they have a completely remodeled facility to work, train, and spend time in alongside EMS, in addition to their offices in Town Hall.
Additionally, housing the ambulances indoors helps to decrease the wear and tear on the vehicles. The EMS has four ambulances, one first responder unit (Police EMS vehicle), three OEM trucks, and five trailers.
“All I have to say is thank you for all the work you put in,” said Mayor Berger. “I’m extremely proud.”
Nicastro recognized Paul Novello, Director of the Department of Public Works, and Victor Cook, OEM Coordinator for their hard work on the building’s development.
“It’s a great day in Howell because of this building; it’s going to serve the residents well and it’s long overdue,” he said. “We’re not looking in the rearview mirror anymore, we’re looking forward and this is how Howell Township is moving forward.”
“I always say this: we are taken care of well,” said Chief Kudrick.