By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Sea Bright Borough Hall just might get some of that extra space officials and employees say they’ve needed, but not in a way that anyone wanted.
If you take a walk out back and look at the building’s eastern wall, you’ll see a lightning-shaped crack running down it and a section that clearly wants to separate from the rest of the building. The damage, though visible from the outside, is worse inside, says administrator Maryann Smeltzer.
In the kitchen, which is on the other side of the wall, cabinets are becoming loose. In the men’s bathroom, one end of the window frame has an inch-long gap from the wall.
“We know the walls are shot,” Councilman Read Murphy said.
Until recently, when the borough began sharing municipal court services with Oceanport, Sea Bright had a trailer that was used as a court chambers butting up against the wall.
Now the borough faces a couple different options, none of them free.
On Tuesday night, the council moved to check in with the state Department of Environmental Protection to see if it needs a permit to fix the wall, whatever course that may be.
Most on the council agreed that since they need the space at borough hall, it might make sense to simply tear down the wall and bump it out five or six feet. That could prove more costly, but Murphy thinks it a more prudent long-term move considering he and his constituents have been drafting up ways to consolidate most public services into one building. That wouldn’t accomplish that goal, but it would provide more space, he said.
“Put the space there,” he said. “We’re going to use it.”
Smeltzer says initial estimates to repair the wall hover in the $30,000 range, but the problem is that nobody really knows the extent of the damage.
“The crack could’ve been there for years. We just don’t know how much damage is underneath,” she said.
Whatever decision comes back from the DEP may drive local leaders’ next step, Smeltzer said.
“I just want borough hall fixed,” she said.