Construction of Beach Haven’s New Municipal Building Gets a Ceremonious Start
Wearing hard hats and wielding a large, golden shovel, Beach Haven Council members dug into the dirt at the construction site of the new borough hall on Engleside Avenue during the groundbreaking ceremony held early Friday morning, Oct. 7. The ritual, attended by project officials, borough employees and local residents, was especially momentous for the town considering the former building, which was in existence for over 50 years before being demolished last fall, had remained vacant since it was ruined by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“In a year we might be in this building. That’s the goal,” Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis announced as she lifted the shovel.
After the former building was taken down and new pilings were installed, construction of the new building was brought to a halt this past May, when initial project bids came in at least $1.5 million over budget. The lowest bid received in the spring was $7.2 million, according to Richard Crane, borough manager.
By changing the scope and design of the project through eliminating the renovation of the police department and filtration buildings as well as moving all departments to the new borough hall, the costs were reduced by about $2 million, said architect Ronald Sebring.
The borough awarded a $5.7 million contract to Santorini Construction Inc. of Neptune last month, after the project went out for rebid in August. Santorini President John Scheidt said he expects to begin mobilizing crews this week with an anticipated completion date of late July 2017, weather permitting. Initial onsite work will include excavation as well as pile caps and concrete work.
“We’re very, very happy to have them doing the construction, and we know that they’re going to do a wonderful job,” said Taggart Davis.
Borough operations will continue to be conducted at the Emergency Operations Center at the old Coast Guard station on Pelham Avenue until the new building is ready to be occupied.
Though council had initially considered other options for the project, the members ultimately decided that constructing a new building at the current site would be the most cost-effective plan. To help fund the related costs, the borough has received $5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds through the state Economic Development Authority.
“This is just another example of a great project that we hope helps not only the Beach Haven municipal complex, but also all the businesses and surrounding citizens, to protect them in the event of another storm,” stated Bruce Ciallella, EDA office of recovery managing director.
The EDA was tasked with helping the state’s small businesses and communities post-Sandy, and has provided over $200 million to 1,300 small businesses and municipalities, Ciallella said.
Upon completion of Beach Haven’s new municipal building, 25 percent, or $1.25 million, of the loan will be forgiven. The remaining cost will be financed as a 30-year, low-interest loan.
Amidst thanking the many people involved with the project, the mayor led a moment of silence for those in Florida, Haiti and the Bahamas who are facing hardships caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“We certainly understand and sympathize with their huge misfortune this week,” Taggart Davis said. “Let us hope that, should they need to, their communities show the same unity ours has to rally together, to rebuild and repair for the future.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger