Update Given On Solar, Road Projects

Little Francis “Frankie” Best is seen enjoying playing in a pile of leaves on the grounds of town hall during the recently held Jackson Christmas Tree Lighting but for residents and officials of the township, leaf pickup means serious business. (Photo By Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – Officials got an update on the township’s ongoing solar energy project and a number of other items in the works during a recent Township Council meeting.

  Township Business Administrator Terence Wall said of the solar project that lease payments would begin in the township on or about January 2022.

  Jackson Council President Andrew Kern asked how much those payments would be for Jackson but at that time Wall did not know. “It comes out to over $400,000 a year so it is pretty substantial,” Kern added noting that would money would be used toward supporting the municipality’s budget.

  Wall gave a progress report on the leaf pickup program which he said was broken up into zones. “There may be some sequencing issues when the leaves haven’t all come down but there are different options for the residents. The Department of Public Works provides for public pickup and currently zone six was completed.”

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  He noted incomplete zones would require the DPW workers to “circle back” to those areas. The status of each zone is listed on the township website. “The department is running three crews. Each crew consists of Department of Public Works staff.” Wall noted that five additional seasonal hires were added to the crews to aid in the collection process.

  Wall noted progress reports were also posted to Jackson’s social media. “The office also has a list of all calls coming in and areas that require additional pickups. Leaf collection isn’t a perfect process. You have all kinds of weather events and all kinds of different items including holiday related disruptions in staffing from time to time.”

  “Residents were also advised that they could dump their leaves at a compost site if they wish to as this is also a designated facility for leaves and brush,” Wall said referring to the site located on Freehold Road.

 Wall also credited the staff that worked on it and developed the system of progress reports.

 Council President Kern noted that leaves have seemed to fall a bit later in autumn in recent years. “I can remember Halloweens where I’d come home and there would be eight inches of leaves in my driveway and I’d have to clean it off so that the trick or treaters could reach the walkway. My leaves aren’t even down yet. Things have changed from the time when leaves hit the ground and the first snow hits the ground. That is what the township is fighting against and I want to thank the administrator and the staff for all their help with that,” Kern added.

Road Construction

  The Brewers Ridge Road construction project was also updated. Wall said “the job itself has a delay related to JCP&L and I’ve been in contact with them as the delays are not acceptable. The only sidewalk work concerned a handicapped improvements at the intersections.”

  “The price for the missing 625 foot of sidewalk would be a change order of over $60,000. It was reviewed and according to the engineer not only is there major grading issues there is a power line that is intertwined with some pine trees. At the time the contractor did not want to give a price and it wasn’t clear if they wanted to do that type of work,” he said.

  Wall said the JCP&L related delays ties into the moving of poles and that Verizon would also be involved with this. “Whatever the log jam is on the utility side has to be addressed and we are sending to the Board of Public Utilities for them to intercede in the issue. I am hopeful that will cure itself quickly. The delays are on the utility’s side, not the township side.”

  Regarding sidewalk projects that are planned, Wall reported “we are having our town planner to review the feasibility of sidewalks. We receive requests from time to time – whether it is township roads or in certain cases county roads. The county does work with the municipality to the extent that if Jackson Township wants a county road included in the sidewalk program. The county needs to look on a map of their overall strategies as to sidewalks and pedestrian safety. That would tie in with their funding program.”

  Wall said Jackson’s planner was looking at a few locations and there would be further dialogue with the county concerning that.

  Kern explained to the public that because the township is so rural in so many areas and also because a roadway may already be planned to be widened by the county at some point, sometimes developments aren’t required to build a sidewalk. Instead, they pay into a sidewalk fund for the amount of footage that the sidewalk would eventually be.

  The council president called for research to be performed on what the fees were “in lieu of installing a sidewalk compared to other towns and also does that include potential things like grading improvement and any other pieces that would normally come with installing a sidewalk.”

  Wall said that this was not done through an ordinance but that the planning board has an engineer’s estimate performed and the applicant agrees to make the payment. The engineer measures how big the project is and is based on the current market rate.