OCEANPORT: The borough now officially owns the Fort Monmouth property that has been tabbed as its municipal complex.
Mayor Jay Coffey announced that the borough closed on the 13.25-acre property on Wednesday, Aug. 16, for $1,053,000.
"When you weigh all the balances and do the numbers, the most prudent allocation of money, time and expense is putting our borough hall over there," Coffey said at the Aug. 17 Oceanport Council meeting.
Borough Administrator Ray Poerio said the final hurdle for the borough was a title issue that has now been resolved.
"There was a carve out associated with it, and part of it deals with tidelands...FMERA's ultimately going to be responsible for clearing up that issue," Poerio said. "It's really been a long road to get to this point."
Where Is It, What Is It
The complex will be located in the 900 area of the fort located off of Main Street and includes several buildings totaling over 40,000 square feet. There are 10 buildings on the site currently, but four will be demolished to make way for more parking. The remaining buildings will be renovated to make way for several borough functions:
• Building 901 for borough offices, municipal court and library
• Building 918 for a senior/community center
• Building 977 for the police department and office of emergency management
• A former kennel that would utilized as a borough storage facility
• The buildings currently utilized by the borough's department of public works
An $11 million bond ordinance was adopted by the council earlier this year which covers the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property as well as the design, planning and engineering work associated with the project.
Poerio said that because the original municipal building was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the borough will be receiving over $5.5 million from FEMA to help cover the cost of the construction of the new complex. The old borough hall site will also likely be sold, and the revenue generated from the sale will also be used to offset construction costs. That site will soon be named an area in need of rehabilitation so that it can be properly zoned and then sold to a developer.
Poerio said the borough also received a $250,000 grant from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders that will be used toward the acquisition of the municipal complex for the preservation of open space. Councilman Steven Solan said the borough has applied for another $250,000 grant from the county to help renovate what will be recreation portion the senior center building. The borough will apply for the grant again in 2018 for the development of a park at the complex.
These three things will give the borough $7.2 million toward the project which has an estimated cost of $8.4 million. Additional improvements such adding LED lighting, improving the HVAC of the buildings and repaving the parking lot could raise the cost of the project by a total of $2 million. Poerio called these types of improvements "alternates" and said the council will have final say on which ones are incorporated into the project.
Poerio has said at its current price, the owner of a borough home assessed at the average of just over $440,000 would see an $7 per month increase on their tax bill.
The borough is working on finalizing budget estimates for the buildings on site and is working through some utility issues but should be out to bid for the construction of the complex by the end of the year.