ASHLEY — There was nothing unsafe about the borough’s municipal office building, but police and administrators couldn’t use two-thirds of it and paid $7,500-per-month in the winter to keep the place warm. But that’s soon to change.
Borough Council on Wednesday approved the purchase of a new building along West Cemetery Street currently occupied by Ehrlich pest control and Ameritech. The building is being sold by JCE Real Estate LLC, according to Borough Secretary Christine Casey.
The second and third floors in the borough’s former municipal building were condemned when rain water and pigeons getting in through a faulty roof caused significant damage.
To get the building out of its condemned status, federal law states the borough would have to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and install an elevator. The elevator was going to cost about $350,000, Gorham said.
The building was cleaned and the roof repaired, but the cost to regain use of the whole building exceeded its value, Gorham said. The first floor is now used for the secretary’s office and round-the-clock police department. Public meetings have to be held in the fire hall.
Gaming grants from casino taxes to the tune of $400,000 will pay for most of the purchase, and capital investment savings the borough has been setting aside for about four years will make up the rest of the $550,000 purchase price, Gorham said. Money earmarked for design and renovations will defray the cost to bring the new building up to date.
The two tenants will stay in the building and pay rent to the borough, said Council President Joe M. Gorham.
“In essence, we’re looking to move into a new facility with relatively no cost to the taxpayers,” Gorham said.
They hope to move all municipal functions, including the police department, meeting room and administrative offices to the 8,000 square feet available in the building by winter to avoid heating a drafty building at an exorbitant cost, Gorham said.
The move is a sign of great belt-tightening, Gorham said.
“We were nearly bankrupt four years ago. We’ve run a completely disciplined borough and we are now in the black. In a time when most municipalities are struggling, we have a surplus,” Gorham said. “(Moving in is) going to be a proud moment realized for the hard work by the council.”