Red Bank officials appear to be building a case that the Community YMCA may sell its Children’s Cultural Center on Monmouth Street only to another educational or cultural non-profit.

Otherwise, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells today’s Asbury Park Press, the property should revert to the borough.

Though the restriction could severely curtail if not kill the Y’s options as it struggles to recoup some of the $2.7 million invested in the property, the takeback provision was apparently the intent of the borough when it transfered the former Shrewsbury Borough Hall to the Children’s Cultural Center at Red Bank for $1 in 2000. (The center later merged with the Y.)

But the murky paper trail left in the wake of that sale could lead to a clash between the Y and the borough over exactly what the town intended and how clearly its aims were spelled out.

At the same time, the Menna administration and Y officials are butting heads over what appears to have been a long-brewing dispute over the apportionment of costs from renovations to the attached Relief Engine Company firehouse, which the borough still uses.

As reported by redbankgreen earlier this month, the Y maintains it is owed about $500,000 by the borough, according to board member Sean F. Byrnes, an attorney and Middletown Committeeman.

The Press’ Larry Higgs reports that Borough Attorney Tom Hall, who was directed by the council to research the history of the sale agreement, may report his findings to the governing body as early as Monday night [Note: meeting postponed to Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30p].

Meantime, Menna appears to be already considering how to spend money from a borough sale of the building, should it first revert to the town. Higgs quotes Menna speculating on using the proceeds to build a new community center on land offered for that purpose by the Pilgrim Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Avenue.

“In the whole mix, is a symbiotic relationship with the Children’s Cultural Center, if it is sold, and the funds could be used in the mix with the Pilgrim offer,” he said.

Here’s a sense of what Hall is dealing with. From the Press:

A borough ordinance approved in October 1999, which was the basis for a contract of sale, stated that the “building will only be used for education, recreation, culture and similar purposes to promote the general welfare of the community and shall not be used for any commercial, trade or manufacturing enterprise, nor for political, partisan, sectarian or religious purpose.”

The ordinance further stated that if the “lands or building are not used in accordance with the above limitation, title shall revert back to the borough.”

Council members could hear a report Monday from Borough Attorney Thomas Hall, who is analyzing ordinances and amendments that enabled the original sale, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“It involves a myriad of documents,” Menna said. “Going back to the borough was the intention, and that is our understanding and our position.”

A sale of the building, which is in a commercial zone, to a recreational or educational institution would meet the original intention of the ordinance, Menna said.

The conditions of the ordinance were referenced in the April 2000 contract for sale of the building for $1, which Menna signed as acting mayor. The borough was offered a perpetual lease of the firehouse portion on Gold Street and would have to pay to restore that part of the building.

But it may not be as simple as that.

The deed — dated July 18, 2000, but not recorded with Monmouth County until April 2, 2002 — contained an addendum that said the sale was subject to the terms of two 1999 ordinances that “specify, among other things,” that the borough would continue to have “use and occupancy” of the firehouse for that purpose for 99 years, and that it would continue own the Veterans Memorial monument at the corner of Monmouth Street and Drummond Place.

But according to borough resident Stephen Fitzpatrick, who has researched the matter independently, neither of the two ordinances that the deed refers to contain a reversion clause. His interpretation appears to be at odds with Higgs’.

Moreover, the deed makes no reference to a July, 1999 ordinance that did spell out the conditiions under which the Cultural Center could use the building, Fitzpatrick says.

More from the Press, this time on the improvements:

A bond ordinance approved in February 1998 issued $769,500 for exterior renovations, and subsequent ordinances hired an architect and a company to do interior demolition, according to borough records.

A June 2000 agreement said Red Bank advanced the YMCA $177,153 for renovation of the “firehouse portion.” That agreement said if the cost exceeds the borough’s share, the difference would be paid to the Children’s Cultural Center. If the two sides are in dispute, the agreement said the matter would be settled by an arbitrator appointed by the Monmouth County Bar Association president.

“The money between the borough and the YMCA is an ongoing issue . . . for renovation of the firehouse,” Menna said.

A member of the Relief Engine Co. tells redbankgreen that the firehouse got a new roof, new windows, air-conditioning for the second floor and repairs to a brick wall.

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