BARNEGAT – Township officials must abide by a number of items before a new Town Hall can be built.
That was the consensus of the mayor and other elected representatives at the July 9 Township Committee meeting.
They responded to one of several questions submitted by a township resident asking what will be involved in a new building and who would approve the changes.
Town Hall and other township-owned buildings – excluding the police department – have been closed to the public since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for a new Town Hall were already underway.
Mayor John J. Novak responded to a written question from a resident about the new Town Hall. All three questions were from residents who were unable to attend the meeting because of building closures.
The township must focus on security in all of the buildings, especially Town Hall, he said.
“We need to be austere and cost-effective,” the mayor said. “Is it going to be as fancy as we would like? Of course not.”
Plans for a new Town Hall must be approved by the zoning officer, the Planning Board or the Zoning Board, he said.
The current Town Hall is one story and occupies 13,000 square feet. The proposed new facility would be two stories and roughly 24,000 square feet. There is currently no running water in the police station, the mayor noted.
Recently, township officials said the new municipal complex could break ground in October. The project was put out to bid and officials said construction could take 18 months.
The employees, including the police officers, complained about a lack of space, leaks, and other conditions that were not up to standards.
Township officials plan to demolish the old public works building first. Then, build the new complex there. When that’s complete, the offices will vacate the current building and set up shop in the new one. Then, the current one will be demolished.
Years ago, the Township Committee passed an ordinance allowing for a Feasibility Assessment to be conducted for the construction of the new town hall and police station, to be built with $15 million in bonds.
In other business, Councilwoman Linda Kropf said recent lightning storms had hit township wells 5 and 6 and the Mirage water tower with “multiple” strikes. But the storms did not affect water availability or water quality for township residents, she said.
“No service was interrupted,” Kropf said.
Novak and other officials also denied that committee members had any say in what businesses are approved in Barnegat. That approval comes from the zoning officer, the Planning Board or the Zoning Board, depending upon the project, Novak said.
The next Township Committee meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4 in Town Hall.