Some N.J. lawmakers balk at spending $300 million for Statehouse renovation

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering in the Statehouse rotunda in November in Trenton

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering in the Statehouse rotunda in November in Trenton

Some New Jersey lawmakers are questioning the Christie administration’s proposal to spend $300 million on renovating the Statehouse in Trenton.

Sen. Jim Whelan, a member of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, said a less costly project might adequately resolve the building’s safety hazards.

“Is there a sweet spot below the $300 million and above doing nothing that addresses the safety issue, that maintains the architectural and historic integrity and so on and so forth?” said Whelan, D-Atlantic. “I don’t know if that’s $125 million or $150 million or $75 million.”

State Treasurer Ford Scudder countered Thursday that it makes little sense to do patchwork repairs on the 1792 building when comprehensive renovations are needed.

“There’s also the issue of throwing good money after bad where there’s some improvements that you could make, but then when you have do to a full renovation eventually, you’re going to just undo them all and have wasted money in the process.”

Sen. Ray Lesniak, who said legislative approval may be needed for the project, said legal action is possible to block the governor’s plan.

“We will sit down with the administration, with the governor’s folks, to see if a no-frills approach can be taken so that the cost of this project can be cut in half, maybe,” said Lesniak, D-Union.

 

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