OCEAN COUNTY – The County Commissioners awarded a contract to build a new social services complex at a recent meeting.
Dozens of programs will be run from that building, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), General Assistance, Child Support, Adult Protective Services, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Homeless Services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid and Statewide Respite.
Currently, the Ocean County Board of Social Services works out of six buildings in an office complex located at 1027 Hooper Avenue.
The county rents space for these offices, and the lease was expiring in 2022, officials said. The county is buying 10 acres, and four of these old buildings to demolish them.
The contract was awarded to Epic Management, Inc., the lowest qualified bidder. The base bid was $37,196,000, including an irrigation system for $175,000, IT/data system for $450,000 and traffic control for $10,000.
Additional projects increased the total bid to $39,537,000: Site Entrance Sign – $69,000, Bi-Polar Ionization System – $139,000, A/V & Security Systems – $649,000, Generator – $989,000, and Equipment Screening – $495,000. The total award was approximately $7 million lower than the original construction cost estimate of $47 million.
The county had expected it to run as much as $56 million if professional fees and other soft costs were included.
On June 17, 2020 the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a bonding ordinance appropriating $56,800,000 for the new building of which $53,700,000 will be issued in bond and bond anticipation notes.
Epic was the lowest responsible bidder, and bids ranged as high as $53 million.
“We are combining the programs located in several old buildings into a state of the art complex that, once completed, will provide substantial savings in maintenance costs,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “Bringing all of these services under one roof will also increase efficiencies for the public we serve.”
The new building will be three stories and 121,000 square feet located at the current site of the county’s Social Services Complex on Hooper Avenue.
“Our saving will also include at least $3 million annually by no longer having to make lease payments on the buildings,” Quinn said. “In addition the new building will be energy efficient and the maintenance costs will be far lower.
“Part of the savings includes the reimbursement from the state and federal governments for housing the Board of Social Services along with the consolidation of the services into one building,” Quinn said.
“The age and current conditions of the buildings that house the Ocean Board of Social Services programs have resulted in the need to replace the facilities,” Quinn said. “The maintenance costs continue to increase and in the long run, this new building will be far more beneficial for our citizens and our staff.
The Ocean County Board of Social Services will use 50 percent of the new facility while Ocean County government departments will use 18 percent. The rest of the square footage will be for shared services including conference rooms and other common spaces. About 400 social services board workers will occupy the new building.
There will be 715 parking spots.
“The staff of the Ocean County Board of Social Services assists hundreds of County residents every day. The programs they administer affect all parts of our populations from young families to the elderly,” Quinn said. “This new building will help accommodate those high numbers of people accessing these services and also provide improved working conditions for the social services staff and our other departments.”
The building design was done by Mott MacDonald, the site work was coordinated by French & Parrello Associates and the project will be overseen by T&M Associates.
Officials said they expect to break ground in late spring and construction could be completed in 2022.