SEA BRIGHT ABANDONS PURCHASE PLAN

3churchResidents shot the idea full of holes. This week, the council killed it.

Two weeks after an outpouring of criticism of a possible purchase of a building to house borough government operations, the Sea Bright council has dropped the idea, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

But the town is still under a December 31 Superior Court deadline to come up with a plan to move its municipal court office out of a trailer, or face the loss of a revenue stream that this year is expected to exceed $200,000.

The council had been in negotiations to buy a red brick loft structure at 3 Church Street, which is being marketed at $1.2 million.

The thinking was that borough operations would be moved to the structure, which has been renovated and is being used as office space. That would in turn free up the current municipal hall on Ocean Avenue for use as a courthouse and gymnasium.

But more than a dozen residents challenged the wisdom of such a purchase, noting that the Church Street location has no place for parking. Objectors also cited costs and the unlikelihood of the borough obtaining financing in the current credit crisis.

From the Press, reporting on Tuesday night’s council session:

“It is a general feeling that the council is not in favor of pursuing the purchase of 3 Church St.,” said Mayor Maria Fernandes…

The Smart Growth Committee, chaired by Councilman Brian P. Kelly, is interested in fitting the gym to house more offices and a court.

The current borough hall lacks a closed office for the tax collector and a closed office for the registrar, as required by law. The borough received a letter dated Oct. 28 from Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson, directing it to develop a plan for a new court facility by Dec. 31.

If no plan is presented by the deadline, the Municipal Court will be taken over by the Superior Court, meaning court revenue would be placed in a separate account and the borough would not receive the money for as long as the Superior Court was in control.

The anticipated court revenue for 2008 is $210,000.

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