Lacey Eyes New Businesses As Plant Closing

A view of the reactor and associated buildings from inside plant property. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

LACEY – Township officials said that while the nuclear plant might be closing, other businesses are moving in.

The Oyster Creek Generating Station is in the process of closing down in 2019. After it stops producing energy, it will continue to be decommissioned. The entire timeline could take a decade or more. During that time, perks from the plant’s operation are expected to slowly slip away. There would be fewer high paying jobs, and the loss of a huge tax ratable. The town will still receive money from the site for the foreseeable future, since the spent fuel rods will remain on the property indefinitely. So, the up side is that there will be some money coming in; the down side is that there will be nuclear waste stored there.

Officials have been saying that they are preparing for the worst, but working toward the best: getting a new business to open an energy company on the lot, thereby continuing to have a strong job market and commercial ratable. Also, they have been enticing other businesses to come to town and trying to bulk up the amount of commercial ratables in the industrial park and highways.

Lacey Town Hall (Photo courtesy of Lacey Township)

“We continue to have meetings with businesses and developers who want to re-invest in Lacey Township,” Committeeman Steven Kennis said. The governing body and administration is working on making themselves as accessible as possible to business interests.

“We’ve become a destination for business,” Mayor Peter Curatolo said. There are national chains and smaller businesses that are looking into the area.

The real estate market is also doing well in town, he said. Additionally, there is a new Central Ocean Business Association, which functions like a chamber of commerce for the towns between Toms River and the southern part of the county.

As the plant closes down, residents have been worried about the effect on taxes. Committeeman Gary Quinn said the governing body has been aware of this concern, and has been spending less. He reported that residents’ tax rate will be $2.043 per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home based on the township average of $275,600, the taxes are going up by $36 a year. This includes the school district, county, and all other obligations.

  In related news, the township made a series of purchases. Most of them were as part of a cooperative pricing system, which allows a bunch of municipal entities to essentially buy in bulk even if they only are buying 1 or 2 of something. Some of the co-ops were local, like through Ocean County. Some were farther, like the Houston-Galveston Area.

The Township Committee awarded the contract for the purchase of two Ford F-250s to All American Ford in the total amount of $74,872. One will go to the code enforcement department, and one will go to the public works department. They also purchased a Ford E-350 from Winner Ford for $48,402 for public works.

Two ambulances will also be remounted by VCI Emergency Vehicle Specialists, in a cost not to exceed $250,580. Remounting takes the existing box – the interior of the ambulance where the patient is carried – and places it on a new chassis. It is used to extend the life of older ambulances. So, two of Lacey’s old ambulances will be renovated in this way, for the approximate price of what one new vehicle would cost.

Two Ford Explorers were purchased from Winner Ford for the police department. The total cost was $52,655.