By John Burton |
OCEANPORT — The now vacant borough hall will likely become new homes for residents.
Mayor John “Jay” Coffey said the Borough Council will soon move forward with the first steps to allow the former borough hall site and property at 222 Monmouth Blvd. to be sold.
That location was flooded and so damaged by Super Storm Sandy in October 2012 that officials had to relocate municipal operations.
Later this month or in August the council will introduce an ordinance to rezone the municipal-owned approximately 5.54 acres as the first step toward its sale. The ordinance will allow the property to be rezoned as an area in need of rehabilitation, according to Coffey. Using that “land use tool,” as Coffey labeled it, allowed under state statute, permits the municipality “to essentially dictate terms,” for what can be done on the site. “As an area of redevelopment, you can set the parameters within which the development on that site can take place,” Coffey explained.
Should the council move in this direction, the next step will be to advertise for requests for offers to purchase. The property has been assessed at $1.35 million, Coffey said and “we want to make sure we make that minimum amount.” Coffey said he hopes the sale benefits the borough financially with no disadvantages.
The property is zoned for residential use “and we think it should remain that way,” Coffey continued. But the real issue for the municipality and possibly for would-be developers will be “what type of density it should have.” That, however, is a conversation for later in the process, when the offers are fielded, he noted.
The Monmouth Boulevard property had been used as the municipal offices since construction was completed in 1965. The location was flooded during Sandy, with much of the surrounding Monmouth Boulevard area under water. By 2014, with work underway to restore the facility, an engineering report determined the damage was much more substantial than initially thought, rendering the site substantially structurally damaged and dangerous to use.
Following that assessment, borough operations were transferred to the borough-owned former Old Wharf House, 316 Main St., where most municipal operations are conducted. Police and Public Works have been operating out of facilities at the former Fort Monmouth property.
Officials are relocating and consolidating all borough operations to 13.35 acres of Fort Monmouth property, rehabilitating 40,000-square-feet in seven existing structures. Much of the purchase and renovation cost will be covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the remainder through other available grants and by local tax dollars.
This article was first published in the July 20-27, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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