While Taylor Design will still work with the township for a brief period, their involvement will end once the transition to the township’s new engineer design consultants, McCormick Taylor, is complete.
The Lenola Town Center Improvements Plan has seen another update with Taylor Design Group taking a step back from the project. While Taylor Design will still work with the township for a brief period, its involvement will end once the transition to the township’s new engineer design consultants, McCormick Taylor, is complete.
The township recently learned the Department of Transportation will reimburse it for its engineering costs if it uses one of the state’s engineers, so at its last meeting, council appointed McCormick Taylor as the project’s engineer design consultants. It did so with the understanding Taylor Design Group, which created the project’s concept plan, would be incorporated into the project to ensure continuity. Township Manager Thomas Neff informed council at its most recent meeting Taylor Design could not come to an agreement with McCormick Taylor.
According to Neff, DOT would not allow Taylor Design to work as subcontractor, but Taylor Design would have been able to work with McCormick Taylor as a part-time employee. Neff said, due to a variety of reasons, Taylor Design wasn’t comfortable with moving forward as an employee and recently informed him of its decision.
Neff said the plan is to retain Taylor Design on a limited basis for now, but if they find that they need them for a longer term engagement, they can bring that request before council at a later date.
Councilman Michael Locatell expressed his dismay that Taylor Design will no longer be part of the project. He said the group created the concept plan that helped them earn the nearly $1 million grant and ran the public meeting where the township solicited feedback on the project. He said council should have offered Taylor Design an alternate contract during its reorganization meeting in January.
“They’re in the back seat now watching somebody else drive,” Locatell said.
Locatell also expressed concerns the project is delayed, but Neff said the project is moving forward. He said it’s not uncommon for DOT to give reasonable extensions for grants if the township has shown “good faith movement” toward implementing the grant.
“The town’s been moving in good faith on this grant,” Neff said. “I highly doubt that DOT would just rip the grant away from us as long as we’re moving forward with it.”
Neff said the township has a date scheduled to walk through the project with McCormick Taylor, Southern Regional DOT representatives and DOT staff from the Trenton office. Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano said she was concerned about the continuity of the project.
“We’re going to have this walk on Camden Avenue, and who’s going to be there that has been involved in this project and been to all the public meetings?” Napolitano said. “I’m going to try to be there, but I don’t know if I can.”
Neff said he anticipated Scott Taylor of Taylor Design Group being there as part of their short-term agreement, but Napolitano said she still feared that taking Taylor Design off the project could disrupt the continuity.
Mayor Lisa Petriello said she felt comfortable moving forward with the recommendations of township staff, and Deputy Mayor Nicole Gillespie agreed that if they needed Taylor Design for a longer period of time, they could make that decision at a future date.
Following the discussion, Locatell made a motion to include a resolution to hire Taylor Design as an alternate planner. While Napolitano seconded the motion, the motion — which required a unanimous “yes” vote — ultimately failed in a 3–2 vote, with Locatell, Napolitano and Donnelly voting for it and Petriello and Gillespie voting it down.
The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.