By Liz Sheehan |
MONMOUTH BEACH – After Super Storm Sandy’s floodwaters in October 2012 chased the town’s governing body from Borough Hall, town meetings were moved to the Monmouth Cultural Center, a former Coast Guard Station on Ocean Avenue.
Then, in September 2016, a fire at the cultural center forced another move. The three-member Board of Commissioners had to move their public meetings to the town’s First Aid building.
Five years after being displaced, the commissioners are getting ready to move meetings back home. On Friday, Mayor Sue Howard said the Borough Hall could be back in business in four months.
The Borough Hall, originally constructed in 1896, is in the process of being moved to 10 feet south from Beach Road and Willow Avenue, where it has stood for a century after being purchased by town fathers for $2,500. Prior to that, the governing body met at the firehouse.
Before that, the building known as the Borough Hall was located at Beach Road and Railroad Avenue. (Railroad Avenue is now called Seaview Avenue, according to “Monmouth Beach – A Century of Memories” by Greg Kelly and the Monmouth Beach Historical Society.) Back then, the building served as a casino for a resort called the Monmouth Beach Country Club; it hosted music, theater and a rollerskating rink, according to the authors.
With this move, the building will be situated at a higher level. Howard said the cost to lift and move the building was $175,000.
Howard said that after the move the building will be 3 feet above the base flood elevation, which is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the level that has a 1 percent chance of being reached or exceeded in a year.
With the move south, more room for steps into the building can be accommodated, Howard said, and a space for community gathering will be created.
Last fall, the borough offices were moved into the renovated library building on Willow Avenue, which was expanded and now contains the library and the borough staff.
Howard said, “We were thrilled,” that the 121-year-old-building was lifted without damage to its two chimneys.
“The chimneys were fine,” she said.
The interior of the building is in good condition, according to Howard.
The next step in the process, she said, is a new foundation for the Borough Hall.
When the Borough Hall is reopened the events held there, such as yoga and exercise classes, can resume.
“The building needs to be protected,” Howard said in a previous interview about the Borough Hall. “It is the heart of the town.”
This article was first published in the June 15-June 22, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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