Rumson officials last night put money behind their desire for a new lookalike version of Memorial Borough Hall, authorizing the issuance of debt to cover the $5.5 million cost, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

Financing for the job is included in $7.9 million in bonds that the borough council unanimously agreed to issue last night. Groundbreaking is planned for the fall.

The move came even as borough Historical Society President Michael Steinhorn continued to object that the borough hadn’t sufficiently explained what it would cost to renovate the century-old former residence of Mayor W. Warren Barbour. The house was donated to the town in 1927 and has been used as its municipal center since 1929.

From the article:

Steinhorn contends Memorial Hall was allowed to deteriorate by the borough, that officials never got a true calculation of rehabilitation costs, other than $500 a square foot, and never discussed alternate uses for the building.

“They’ve never repaired the building properly, they haven’t been able to use the third floor in decades,” he said. “It was a wonderful home for a sea captain and (later) for Jewish children from New York.”

Architect Frank Tomaino of Design Ideas Group, who will design the new structure, concluded in February that a Memorial Hall makeover would cost twice as much as new construction, in part because of the expense of relocating borough offices to temporary quarters.

Material prepared by the borough and handed out at a public forum on the issue in late February suggests the existing structure is rife with “significant structural faults and code deficiencies” after eight decades of patchwork repairs.

From a brochure mailed to residents:

Among the failures, engineers have identified outdated electrical and mecahnical systems, asbestos, energy deficiencies, life-safety issues and a lack of compliance with current ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.

The building has a “minimal fire detection” system and no fire suppression system, according to a review of the structure by T&M Associates.

The existing structure will be demolished when the new one is completed on the site of the present parking lot.

From the Press:

At the meeting, Kevin Gaynor of Lennox Street asked the council if the building would include a police station. Mayor John E. Ekdahl said police facilities are included.

“We’re building it as if the police will use it,” Ekdahl said, noting that could change pending the results of a shared services study between the borough, Fair Haven and Little Silver.

At an interest rate of 4.1 percent, the portion of the debt from the proposed project would cost the borough $350,000 a year for 25 years, the council said in a resolution passed March 1. That equates to $136 per year per household, though no increase in taxes is required, the resolution stated.

The balance of the $7.9 million bond issue is to cover roads, other infrastructure and equipment.

Email this story