By Chris Rotolo |
OCEANPORT – By the end of 2019, borough officials believe Oceanport will have its brand new municipal complex fully operational on the grounds of Fort Monmouth.
A left-hand turn off Saltzman Avenue onto Murphy Drive takes visitors over the Oceanport Creek and to three adjacent buildings on the left side of the throughway, which will serve as the new police headquarters, borough hall and community center.
The borough acquired the 13.25 acres of property and approximately 40,000 square feet of facilities in July 2017 and closed the $1.53 million deal the following month.
According to borough administrator Raymond T. Poerio, the borough bonded for the total estimated cost of the project, which is $11 million. Included in that estimated total is the initial cost of acquisition.
To help offset the bond, Poerio said the borough will receive approximately $5.5 million from FEMA, while close to $1 million is expected to come from the sale of the old borough hall property. An additional $1 million will come from county and state grants. Once the project goes out to bid and the actual total cost is determined, Poerio expects the council will vote to have the remaining balance paid off over a 30- to 40-year period.
Nearly a year into the development project, the borough is coordinating with 12 local, county and state entities – including the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) – to assess the condition of the complex’s utilities, a step in the process Mayor Jay Coffey says is the No. 1 priority.
“The utilities that FMERA is currently using at the fort come from the Army and they just aren’t up to modern standards,” Coffey said during a tour with The Two River Times. “JCP&L can’t come in right now and take care of the electric because the design is so outdated and inadequate. It’s the same with water and sewage. Reconfiguring the utilities to meet code is the biggest obstacle right now.”
Coffey and Poerio cited the presence of a fully equipped police facility as the major selling point of this campus.
Formerly the fort’s military police headquarters, before it was later transformed into a New Jersey State Police Barracks, the facility includes a spacious dispatch center, several holding cells, interrogation rooms, a briefing and conference room and a multitude of offices that will also house personnel from the borough’s Office of Emergency Management, fire department, first aid, construction office and records department.
“This is what we couldn’t replicate. If we were to build anywhere else, we essentially wouldn’t be able to have a jail,” Coffey said. “This was the deal maker or breaker for us. If we were to build anything like this at another site, you’re talking about $20 million. The building itself will be upgraded and made modern, but it’s essentially going to be a turnkey operation for our police department.”
The centerpiece of the complex will be borough hall, which formerly housed the fort’s Personnel and Training Director’s Office, as well as the Citizen Personnel Advisory Center.
Upon entering the facility, the municipal courtroom will be located directly to the left at the head of the main hallway. At the end of the passage, another door on the left leads into a spacious rectangular room with an abundance of floor and wall outlets that will house the borough’s library. To the right of the library entrance will be the borough’s administrative offices.
To the right of borough hall will be the borough’s recreation and community center, a facility that will be home to recreation department and senior club personnel, as well as a senior meeting room estimated to hold 150, several classrooms and a fully operational kitchen with sliding doors that lead to a covered outdoor patio.
The patio will separate the building from another exciting aspect of the acquisition, which is nearly 3 acres of open green space available to borough residents for recreational activities.
“Aside from blowing out and completely remodeling the inside of the building, we’ll be building a new playground, a community garden, a walking trail and a gazebo surrounding the facility,” Poerio said. “We’d also like to build a memorial park on site with pavers, a flagpole and all of the monuments we had on display at our old borough hall, as well as a piece of steel we were given from 9/11.”
Poerio said the borough will receive approximately $500,000 in grants from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders to help with the acquisition of the field and the redevelopment of the facility. He also confirmed that he is seeking an additional $250,000 for the construction of the playground.
All three of the buildings will be receiving new HVAC systems. The community center is slated to receive a new roof. And the borough hopes to equip the roofs of the police headquarters and borough hall with solar panels.
A fourth structure at the complex located behind the future borough hall has already been rehabilitated by the borough and is being used as its public works yard.
This article was first published in the July 12-19, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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