NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–’The offices of Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey were without electricity for two hours in the county-owned, but privately-managed “Civic Square” building at 25 Kirkpatrick Street.
The power outage occurred on Tuesday, October 6, but no authorities publicized the problem, or any contingency plans implemented.
On October 8, Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos confirmed that the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) had been affected by the sudden outage two days earlier.
“I believe they were impacted and the other municipal offices in that space were impacted,” said Polos at the October 8 Board meeting.
New Brunswick Municipal Court Administrator Kim Milligan confirmed the outage interrupted an afternoon session of court on the first floor of the building that day.
“We had court up until the outage,” Milligan told New Brunswick Today.
“Municipal court was recessed and convened again when the power was back on,” said Robert Rawls, the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator, the following day at a City Council meeting.
But one reader told NBToday that people who still had not had their time before the Judge were actually told to come back the following day, and that police were mum about the cause of the problem.
The incident comes just over four months after an underground transformer explosion forced evacuations of all of the neighboring government buildings.
Middlesex County Adminstrator John Pulomena estimated the outage affected the MCPO for “about two hours” and said the issues spurred the county to express concerns to Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G).
The building is managed by KMS Development Partners, one of the Philadelphia-based “Keating” companies. It was built by the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) in 2000.
DEVCO President Chris Paladino told New Brunswick Today that a rooftop generator stopped, causing the problem.
“The emergency generator came on as it should and [PSE&G] came out and did repair,” Paladino said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD), which is also headquartered in the building, also downplayed the issue, saying NBPD was “not adversely affected” by the outage.
“There was an electrical issue in the building,” said NBPD Captain JT Miller. “The police department was not adversely affected by the electrical issue. The police department has back up systems in place to deal with such situations.”
But it was lights out for the offices of the MCPO, and the city’s Muncipal Court, as well as its Health Department, Inspections Division, Planning Department, Engineering Department and Fire Safety Divisions.
James O’Neill, a spokesperson for the MCPO, did not respond to multiple requests for comments about the incident.
“Most of the problems that exist outside the facility which would be owned by the utility companies, and obviously we’ve expressed our concerns to them to address them, which they have,” Pulomena said in response to New Brunswick Today’s questions at the October 8 meeting.
“But obviously we want to make sure that we could deal with backup capabilities to make sure when power does go down, we’re covered.”
The city, who rents office space in the building from the county and chips in to pay KMS for their management services, confirmed the outage, but referred questions to Keating.
“An outage did occur, I do not have information regarding the specific problem behind it,” said city spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw.
“Keating may be able to give you more information,” Bradshaw continued referring to the private company the county hired to manage its facilities at 25 Kirkpatrick Street and 75 Bayard Street.
Keating did not respond to an inquiry from New Brunswick Today.
During a City Council meeting, Assistant City Engineer Thomas Valenti confirmed the city’s Engineering Department was affected by the outage for an hour and a half.
“We’re not on the emergency circuits,” said Valenti.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.