Sea Bright submits plans for court offices

Rec center expansion will bring boro into compliance with state regs


SEA BRIGHT — Borough officials have submitted plans and a timeline detailing how the borough will renovate municipal court offices to bring the workspace into compliance with state regulations.

In October, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson told the borough it would lose municipal court revenues if the court facilities, currently housed in a trailer behind the borough hall at 1167 Ocean Ave., were not moved to an adequate space.

The court revenues generated for 2008 are estimated at $210,000.

The borough has been in violation of the Superior Court of New Jersey directive concerning the workspace. In addition, the tax collector and the registrar are not in sufficient office space as determined by the state.

“We showed Judge Lawson our plans and also an estimated timeline for the entire process at least up until phase one, [which] essentially [includes] major renovations for borough offices and the court offices,” said Councilman and Smart Growth Committee Chairman Brian Kelly.

In addition, the borough is looking into sharing court services with towns that neighbor Sea Bright, including Oceanport.

Kelly said the exact cost of the project is not known because it is too early in the process and plans may still be altered.

The borough previously considered purchasing a vacant building at 3 Church St. and using that as the borough hall, but many residents opposed the purchase, citing the additional noise and traffic a borough facility would bring to a mostly residential street.

After listening to the residents’ comments the borough instead decided to renovate the current facility and construct borough offices in the current recreation center space.

The recreation center was originally intended for use by the children who attended school in Sea Bright but the borough is now a sending district and no children go to school in Sea Bright.

At the last smart growth meeting Kelly said at this point the recreation center has minimal use.

According to Kelly, the project will be done in two phases and construction on phase one should begin in late 2009.

He said the Borough Council will vote to give the CFO authorization to go out for bonding for the project at the next meeting.

Mayor Maria Fernandes said construction is unlikely to start before that because of the lengthy process involved with getting started.

“[You have to] go out and bond and that takes a while, then you have to prepare the specs to go out to bid, then you have to go out to bid, then [you have to] receive the award,” Fernandes said.

Kelly said in his opinion the plans and timeline submitted should be enough to bring Sea Bright into compliance with the state.

“My personal opinion is: I can’t imagine what else should be required,” he said.

He said if the plans and timeline are not enough, the judge will contact the borough and they will answer any questions he may have.

According to Kelly, the trailer behind the borough hall was meant as a temporary measure.

“The trailer was put in many, many years ago as sort of a temporary fix and obviously it went beyond being temporary,” he said.

Kelly said the goal is to carry out the project in two phases. The first phase is to upgrade the borough offices and court facility and the second phase will involve the police station.

“The goal would be to add onto the current building, where the trailer is, extend that out a bit and add the police station there,” Kelly said.

He said the borough offices and the court facility must be completed first because of Lawson’s directive.

The borough also looked into the idea of a new municipal complex last year.

One of the ideas that came out of Smart Growth meetings included using the Peninsula House lot for a new two-story municipal office/police station.

Residents were concerned with possible parking deficiencies associated with the proposal to place municipal facilities in a horseshoe-like design with the buildings stacked around the sides and parking in the center on municipal property along Ocean Avenue from the Chapel Hill Beach Club to Donovan’s Reef.

The next Sea Bright council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.