OCEANPORT: The total funding for demolishing and rebuilding the Hurricane-Sandy damaged borough hall has grown to $4 million, and local officials are searching for more grants to rebuild its offices.
Most of the money comes from a federal grant awarded recently, said Oceanport Borough Administrator John O. Bennett at the July 9 council meeting.
The totals are $3.696 million from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, with $101,000 recently awarded from insurance. Previously, the borough received an insurance award of $137,000, growing the total for the project to just under $4 million, Bennett said.
The money will pay for the demolition of borough hall, at Myrtle Avenue and Monmouth Boulevard, and the disposal of the debris. The money would also fund its rebuilding.
Congressman Frank Pallone announced the grant award last week: “These grants help to lessen the financial hit that our local governments still face as communities continue to recover from Sandy,” said Pallone. “And as we continue to rebuild, we have a unique opportunity to improve our public infrastructure so it is stronger and can withstand future storms. I am grateful that FEMA recognizes the importance of these ongoing efforts in New Jersey.”
Pallone said the grant will cover the costs for the demolition and disposal of the original borough hall and the construction of a new concrete block building, built to current codes and standards with steel roof joists on an elevated pile foundation of seven feet to meet the 500 year floodplain..
Oceanport Borough Hall was severely flooded during Hurricane Sandy and all borough operations have since been relocated. Several tests determined the original borough hall could no longer be occupied and the process of moving offices to the Old Wharf Building began in January.
Bennett said the money must be used for those earmarked purposes.
“Understand this is not like a check is in our hands,” he said. “It’s for a project that has yet to be finalized, and once spent will be reimbursed by this money.”
Additionally, the FEMA grant offers reimbursement of 90 percent of a project, if approved, not the total amount, Bennett said.
While the borough operates out of its temporary home, the original borough hall will be demolished, but where it will be rebuilt is still not finalized.
“We are rebuilding it, but it does not necessarily mean rebuilding in the current location,” said Councilman Joseph Irace.
Other options include property on Wolf Hill Park, Maria Gatta Community Park property on Port Au Peck Avenue, a Fort Monmouth building, an unspecified location at Monmouth Park or a shopping center on East Main Street.
Councilman Robert Lynch suggested the borough appeal a rejected portion of its insurance claim, in order to see additional reimbursement.
“I see our claim had a total of $500,000 rejected, two line items,” Lynch said. “I’d like to see if that can be pursued…Theoretically we could get 90 percent of that.”
The borough administrator added that Oceanport is also pursuing additional money for police trailers and the department of public works.