Three Projects, One Location
Workers are installing cellular antennas, a two-story structure and a retaining wall at Fanwood's Borough Hall.
What's with all that construction at Fanwood's Borough Hall? T-Mobile and Metro PCS are installing two cell phone antennas atop the emergency communications tower that stands next to Borough Hall, Borough Clerk Eleanor McGovern and Borough Attorney Dennis Estis said. The companies are also constructing a two-story cinderblock structure to house the equipment they will need to operate the antennas.
T-Mobile and Mobile PCS are splitting the construction and installation costs, McGovern said. They will also pay Fanwood about $64,000 annually for use of the antennas and the communications tower, she said.
The tower was constructed about seven years ago, McGovern said, with the provision that antennas could be added to it. She said the borough is considering whether to allow a third antenna, which would provide additional revenue. Engineers are currently examining whether the tower could support the additional weight, she said.
In an unrelated project, union laborers are rebuilding a retaining wall at the front of Borough Hall. When complete, the wall will become the first product of Fanwood's three-month-old, non-binding agreement with an Elizabeth-based labor union.
In July, the Borough Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Laborers International Union of North America. Rather than fill a vacancy on the borough's Department of Public Works with a full-time employee, Fanwood can now draw workers as needed from LIUNA's union hall for short-term projects. Mayor Colleen Mahr said the borough would try to use Fanwood laborers, when possible.
"There are local men who are sitting in the [union] halls unemployed," Mahr said in a July 6 Borough Council meeting. "We can't bring someone on [full-time] now, but we have projects where we can save money."
Some local residents and public employees have expressed concern about the memorandum agreement. At a Borough Council meeting July 12, John Piccola, a member of the Fanwood Public Works Department, said he worried that union laborers might ultimately replace public works employees.
At that meeting, Mahr replied that the resolution would cause no Fanwood Public Works employee to lose his or her job, and emphasized that the employees would only be used as a supplemental resource.
On Wednesday, McGovern stated simply, "This will save us money."
The retaining wall is replacing one constructed of railroad ties that had started to fall apart, she said. The project should be completed by the end of the week.