Middletown Plans a New $20 Million Town Hall

February 20, 2017
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This conceptual design for Middletown’s new municipal complex shows what could become of the township’s town hall, at 1 Kings Highway facility.

By Jay Cook

MIDDLETOWN – Penciled into the township’s to-do list in 2017: a complete overhaul to their 1 Kings Highway facility.

On Feb. 10, Middletown Township posted a request for proposal (RFP) on its website, looking for architectural firms to place bids on a possible $20 million complex which would become an overall administrative hub at the township’s main campus.

“We have all these township offices spread all over, and it’s very difficult and inefficient for our residents,” Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger said by phone on Saturday afternoon. “It would be nice to go to one building and take care of a few things in one area.”

Preliminary plans for the project came in on Sept. 12 and Nov. 16 of last year from Arcari + Iovino, PC – an architectural firm that was retained as the Architect of Record by Middletown at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 1, 2017.

The RFP says this project would be an approximately 23,000-square-foot, multistory building in a new spot at 1 Kings Highway that would host all township administrative offices, along with the police department.

The design calls for the building to be directly across from the Johnson Gill Annex, centered in the area around an existing cell tower. The former administrative site would in turn become parking for the new building.

While these currently are the only blueprints, Scharfenberger said the Arcari + Iovino plans are a “conceptual design,” and are by no means the final product – other bids from different firms could indeed change the layout.

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Specific terms regarding the funding for this project were outlined. A clause in the proposal states that bidding architectural firms must have a “thorough knowledge of FEMA Public Assistance funding requirements, regulations, etc. to ensure the project remains fully eligible for Federal Funding.”

Scharfenberger noted that sections of Middletown are located in zones that qualify the township for certain types of resiliency funding.

“We’re looking to get every bit of funding we can from the outside that would lower the cost to us,” he said.

The Johnson Gill Annex, which houses numerous township
departments, could also be redesigned. Photo by Nikole J. Ghirardi

Also in play are the numerous other sites that the township overlooks, which could become expendable after the new complex is built.

Scharfenbeger said that “between leasing or possibly divesting of certain properties, you can offset the cost of this, where it could almost pay for itself.”

Of the services offered through Middletown Township, only six have official offices listed in the current town hall building: administration, fire department, municipal court, police department, public information and the township clerk.

The Johnson Gill Annex, a facility only a few hundred feet away and across the parking lot, houses building and inspection; finance; fire prevention; tax assessment and tax collection.

A bevy of other departments are spread across the township, which spans nearly 41 square miles and houses almost 67,000 residents.

The planning and community development board is located at 3 Penelope Lane, also off Kings Highway, and within walking distance of the town hall.

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But both the health department and social services are housed at 180 Main St. in Port Monmouth. The recreation department’s offices are based out of the Poricy Park Nature Center at 345 Oak Hill Road.

Both emergency services and the public works and engineering departments are found at 52 Kanes Lane. While it might not be feasible to move the entire public works fleet over, at minimum their new offices would be at the proposed location, Scharfenberger said.

Built in 1961, Scharfenberger said the current administrative building is becoming more and more outdated. Besides items like the HVAC system and the sometimes-shoddy Wi-Fi, he noted that the town is spending money to keep up on mandates from the American Disability Act and the FBI, while a new complex would solve those issues.

The township’s purchasing agent Lynn Mattei will be receiving bids up until 11 a.m. on Feb. 23. At that point, township administrator Anthony Mercantante and chief financial officer Colleen Lapp would sit down and begin to review them.

Scharfenberger also noted that committeeman Kevin Settembrino, a licensed architect with an office in Red Bank, may also help in the review process.

Tentatively, March 6 stands as the award-date for the bids, and would be done so at a township committee meeting.

“We want a design that certainly would fit with the character of Middletown and that whole historic feel,” Scharfenberger said.

There is also no deadline on when the project would begin or end, but Mercantante said on Monday that the township may also begin receiving construction bids for the actual work later this year.

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