Contract Awarded for New Public Works Building in Barnegat Township

Nov 14, 2018

Barnegat Township’s new public works building took a step closer to fruition with the township committee awarding a $2.4 million contract to R. Wilkinson and Sons, Absecon, to construct the facility. The resolution was adopted at the committee’s Nov. 13 meeting.

Township Engineer John Hess said the new public works building would be located off Lighthouse Drive in an area that had been originally proposed for a new facility more than 15 years ago.

“It was planned, but it never got done,” he said. “That area has a salt dome and fuel tanks for the vehicles. The building has been on and off the back burner, but now it really looks like it is finally going to happen. Without that building, many vehicles have to be stored outside. The town quickly outgrew the old public works facility.”

Township Administrator Martin Lisella said he hopes construction can begin in December and completed during 2019.

“Part of the problem was that not enough money was bonded back in the day,” he said. “The committee members didn’t realize how expensive it was going to be, and it didn’t go anywhere.”

The public works building was included in a $14.2 million bond ordinance that would provide for various improvements. The ordinance’s centerpiece is a new township hall in addition to renovations of other buildings located at the municipal complex on West Bay Avenue.

Mayor Frank Caputo said the town hall will be very high on the priority list for 2019.

“Hopefully, it will go out to bid early next year and that sometime in 2019, we’ll be able to start construction,” he said.

Committeeman Albert Bille said the current municipal building committee is more than 40 years old. Prior to that, a developer used the site to display several model homes.

“But what we’re looking at possibly doing is constructing a new building closer to the roadway (Bay Avenue) and then tear down the current one, which is set back from the road,” he said. “We could use that space for parking.”

Bille said committee members have received feedback from residents complaining that the current town hall is insufficient.

“It’s a disgrace,” he said. “There are several areas where the roof leaks after a bad rainstorm. It is severely outdated. We don’t even have enough room for keeping all our records.”

Police Chief Keith Germain underscored the need to replace the police station, which is located on the west end of the building. Most of the officers have to work out of trailers.

“The police station moved here in 1981, and at that time we had 12 officers and a population of 8,000,” he said. “We badly needed a new police station 20 years ago. Ten years ago, we needed it incredibly badly, and it has gotten worse since then.”

The department currently has 49 officers, and Barnegat’s population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be almost 23,000 in 2017.

— Eric Englund

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