Bergen County is looking for ways to do more with less by consolidating certain buildings and moving others – a move that could potentially save Bergen County tax payers $46 million.
According to plans announced Monday by County Executive Kathleen Donovan, the Bergen County Police Department, which is located on Zabriskie Street in Hackensack, will be relocated to the county’s former Health Department building in Paramus on East Ridgewood Avenue.
Also on the move is the county’s Department of Public Works (DPW) building currently located behind County Police headquarters in Hackensack, which will move to the Mosquito Control Department building in Paramus.
The county’s Health Department is also moving, but will remain in Hackensack at the county administration building at One Bergen County Plaza.
“What we found was that the county had too many buildings and too much space, and that we could consolidate operations and save money,” said Bergen County Administrator Ed Trawinski in a press release.
Trawinski said the moves will save tax payers upwards of $46 million by vacating “unneeded buildings” and return certain properties to municipal tax rolls such as the Zabriskie Street property, which will be sold to developers.
According to the County, previous administrations had set goals to move county police and the DPW from Zabriskie Street due to the frequency of floods, but viewed the site as a desirable redevelopment location due to its proximity to Route 4.
After talks with Hackensack officials, the Zabriskie Street property was rezoned for mixed-use development.
Moving County DPW To Paramus Could Result In Faster Response
Moving the Public Works garage out of a flood zone from Hackensack to Paramus could save equipment and allow the county’s DPW to respond more effectively to the needs of county residents, according to County Public Works Department Director Joseph Crifasi.
“The Public Works department needs to be able to respond in times of emergency. We can’t do that very easily if the department’s yard is flooded,” Crifasi said. “Secondly, Paramus offers us a more centralized location from which to operate, and we are relocating to land the county already owns.”
According to Donovan, former County Executive Dennis McNerney supported a plan to purchase the former Goldberg Slipper Factory in Hackensack to build a new county police headquarters. The plan was estimated to cost approximately $47 million.
The current plan to renovate the Health Department building is estimated to cost about $1 million, and the sale of the Zabriskie Street property is estimated to bring the county an additional $6-$7 million in revenue.
“We are accomplishing the same goal as the previous administration tried to achieve, but we are doing it for $46 million less,” said Donovan.
But former Bergen County Administrator Tim Dacey, who served under County Executive Dennis McNerney, told The Record Donovan’s numbers “don’t add up”.
He said Donovan did not take into account the cost of the Mahwah dispatch center or the Central Municipal Court, which were located in the county police building.
According to Dacey, the current administration spent $1.24 million for the Hackensack building to house the court, plus $650,000 to renovate it, while the Mahwah dispatch center cost $12.4 million.
After the recession hit, the McNerney administration canceled any plans of building a new county police headquarters.