$5 Million Loan for New Beach Haven Borough Hall ‘Entirely Forgiven’

Jun 14, 2017
Artwork by: File Photo by: Ryan Morrill 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 Oct. 7, 2016.

You can’t blame Beach Haven officials if they feel like they just won the lottery. After all, it’s not every day you find out that you’ve just saved $5 million.

But that’s what happened as a result of action approved recently by the state Economic Development Authority, from which the borough received $5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds to construct the new borough hall. It is currently under construction at the site of the former building, which was in existence for more than 50 years before being demolished last fall. The old borough hall had remained vacant since it was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said that upon completion of Beach Haven’s new municipal building, which is expected to be ready by the fall, 25 percent, or $1.25 million, of the loan would be forgiven, according to the initial terms with the EDA. The remaining cost was to be financed as a 30-year, low-interest loan.

But at Monday’s council meeting, Davis announced that the entire loan will be forgiven.

“I was totally in shock,” said Davis. “That’s $5 million we are saving because we don’t have to pay any of it off.”

To punctuate the occasion, borough officials popped open plastic bottles, spilling ribbons and confetti at the front of the meeting room.

“We had been regularly in touch with the EDA, and they had told us that there was a possibility that the entire loan would be forgiven,” said Davis. “They had done it for other communities.”

Davis said the EDA had to clear some hurdles, such as having the move approved by its board of directors.

“There was also the possibility that Gov. Christie could veto it,” she said. “But when he didn’t, we  breathed a sigh of relief.”

The entire building project cost is $7.2 million. Sherry Mason, borough clerk/acting manager, said the remaining $2.2 million will be financed through a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contractor is Santorini Construction Inc. of Neptune.

“They’re making progress,” said Davis. “It’s really starting to look like a municipal building.”

Since Superstorm Sandy, the borough has been operating out of the old U.S. Coast Guard station on Pelham Avenue. More than 10 years ago, Beach Haven purchased the facility from the federal General Services Administration for $1 as the building was being used as an emergency operations center.

Councilman Don Kakstis said that move potentially saved the borough more than $1 million.

“We would have faced paying that in rental costs if we had to go somewhere else after Sandy,” he said.    

— Eric Englund











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