By JOHN T. WARD
Three years after the wheels came off a politically charged plan to merge the police forces of three area towns, two of them have found another, less contentious route into shared services.
Fair Haven and Rumson have agreed to provide key maintenance services to one another in what they’re billing as a “groundbreaking” deal announced Wednesday morning.
Under terms of the deal, Rumson will dump its residential brush at Fair Haven’s processing center and get engineering services for small jobs from Fair Haven’s in-house engineering office.
Fair Haven, meanwhile, will no longer maintain its own parks and other borough-owned properties, handing off that responsibility to its neighbor to the east, Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl tells redbankgreen.
Rumson will also provide street-sweeping and storm sewer catch-basin cleaning services to Fair Haven under the deal.
“The big pickup for us is brush,” said Ekdahl. He said borough DPW trucks made some 500 trips to a farm in Tinton Falls last year to dispose of residential brush, with each round-trip taking about an hour and a half, consuming gallons of gas and putting wear-and-tear on costly vehicles.
Under the agreement, “we cut that trip down to seven minutes,” he said. “For us, that’s the sweet spot of this deal.”
The number of trips typically number between 350 and 400, but was boosted by the cleanup after Tropical Storm Irene last August, he said.
Though Fair Haven will wind down its DPW operations, no jobs will be lost as a result of the deal in either town, Ekdahl said.
The pact, billed as an expansion of an agreement under which the two towns shared building inspection services, arose from regular discussions between their business administrators Theresa Casagrande in Fair Haven and Tom Rogers in Rumson Ekdahl said.
Official discussions began about six weeks ago, when Mike Halfacre was still Fair Haven’s mayor, and continued “without interruption,” Ekdahl said, after Ben Lucarelli replaced Halfacre, who resigned to take a job in the Christie Administration.
Lucarelli could not be reached for immediate comment, but in the press release called the deal “a wonderful opportunity that will benefit the residents of both of our communities.
Rumson will also have access to the services of Fair Haven Engineer Rich Gardella for projects such as upgrades on the Rumson DPW facility. Rumson will continue to retain T&M Associates of Middletown as the consultant to its council and planning and zoning boards, Ekdahl said.
Ekdahl said the savings to taxpayers under the agreement, which is expected to begin early next month, “will be hard to quantify until we’ve had about a year of experience.”
He said Fair Haven would be able to avoid the purchase of a street sweeper, which costs about $500,000, and that savings on gasoline, labor and other costs associated with Rumson’s brush removal would be significant.
Here’s the press release issued by the two towns: Press Release – Interlocal Agreement
Here’s the Fair Haven resolution: FH Resolution
And here’s Rumson’s: Rumson Resolution