Editor’s Note: Two weeks ago we started to look for the total cost of the proposed Gloucester City Elementary Middle School (EMS). We wanted to know what the construction fees were along with a breakdown on what has been spent on this project since it was first proposed in 2002. We asked for help from the local school administration but we couldn’t get a straight answer to our question (s). You would think that number would be readily available. Searching the internet led us to the New Jersey School Development Authority (SDA)website. There we found a wealth of information. But, we couldn’t find all the costs. Missing, for example, was the total the federal government spent to clean the area of contaminants. Likewise we wanted to know how much in local tax ratables have been lost. Seventy homes and two businesses were demolished, under eminent domain, to make room for the new school. Over the last 10 years Public Works employees have spent hundreds of hours cutting the grass and weeds on this property. What did that cost taxpayers? Below is the first part of the two part series about our search for information. We didn’t get answers to some of our questions but we did come up with a number for the cost of the school. That number could be even higher, but we stayed at a lower number to be safe. The story contains links to the sources of our information. If there are any mistakes in the figures we used we ask officials to bring it to our attention so a correction can be made. The second part of the series will appear on Friday’s page.
By William E. Cleary
GLOUCESTER CITY NJ—The New Jersey School Development Authority (SDA) at its July 2
Board meeting approved an expenditure of $64 million for the construction of the new middle school, Market Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets. According to Edye Maier, SDA Public Information Manager, that figure includes $42 million for the design-build contract, along with the costs for items such as land acquisition, relocation, demolition and remediation.
Maier was asked if there would be any future construction costs?
"The $64 million is the total cost of everything for that project, she said. "We do not expect any extra costs at this time, however there is always a chance that something could happen during construction. We will be posting the progress of the construction on the SDA website. And if there are any additional expenditures they will be posted." (See SDA website search for Gloucester City Middle School)
The construction contract was awarded to Terminal Construction Corp. of Woodbridge, NJ.
DESIGN BUILDING COSTS ........................$42,000,000
PRE DEVELOPMENT COSTS ........................13,468,324
TOTAL PROJECT.................................... $63,829,937
Not included in the project costs is the $20 million that was spent by the federal government and other agencies to clear the ground of contaminants nearly 10 years ago. The school is being built on a Superfund site. The site, which was contaminated when spent radioactive ore produced by the defunct Welsbach Factory was dumped there, will include a sports field for the new middle school. Other toxins, such as chromium and benzene from three other former industrial sites, also polluted parts of the future school property, according to state records.
Also missing from the $64 million project amount is the monies lost in tax ratables as a result of the 70 homes and businesses being demolished. Those properties were removed under eminent domain. In September 2010 that figure was $3,543,500. No doubt that number has increased since four more years has passed. We had asked the City Tax Office for an updated figure but as of this posting we still haven’t received an answer.
The story will be continued on Friday’s page.