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Owner Of Old Sea Bright School Being Asked To 'Secure' Building

SEA BRIGHT: One of the oldest buildings in the borough has been sitting vacant for over 30 years and the owners are now being asked to make sure it is not a danger to the community.

A resident spoke during the Sept. 5 Sea Bright Council meeting and asked about the current status of the old Sea Bright Public School at 4 River St. Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said the borough has taken the owner to court in an attempt to get them repair the roof and "secure the building."

"The property owner presented some things to the judge and they are back for a determination on Oct. 5," Verruni said. "The judge should render a decision on Oct. 5 just to secure the building which includes roof repairs, window repairs and it required the owner to get a structural engineer in there to determine the structural condition of the building."

The school was built in the late 1800s and was used by grades K-6 before it closed in the 1970s.

In 1980, the Sea Bright Board of Education sold the school to Ingol Media Service for $125,000. It was then sold to Fondeur Bridges Properties Inc in 1988 for $600,000 before being sold again in 1995 to Aldo J. Frustacci, who represents River Realty, LLC, for $100,000.

Since the original transaction in 1980, no renovations have been made to the building.

Verruni said members of the governing body have been shown renovation plans that the owners wants to present to the Sea Bright Planning/Zoning Board in the future.

"They maintain that they want to renovate the building," Verruni said.

In June of 2016, the Sea Bright Zoning/Planning Board voted down an application by River Street Realty, LLC, to turn the existing 3.5-story structure into a 12-unit apartment building located at 4 River St.

The resident asked if eminent domain is an option for the property, but Mayor Dina Long said they would like to avoid that possibility.

"The council did establish a redevelopment zone which included condemnation of that property, but no further steps have been taken in establishing a redevelopment plan," Long said. "We're hoping that we can work with the property owner and have the property owner develop the property."

Doing its November 2016 meeting, the council adopted a "downtown properties condemnation redevelopment study" performed by Cofone Consulting Group that was accepted by the Sea Bright Planning Board earlier this year.

The board agreed that the three adjoining lots, which includes the former school, an empty one story structure containing a former dry cleaning business and a vacant lot which once housed a pharmacy, are located in an area in need of redevelopment. The board also agreed that the lots met the criteria for the use of eminent domain.

If the borough were to exercise eminent domain, it could either take ownership of the land and develop the property or bring in a redeveloper to buy the property from the current owners at just compensation, Councilman Marc Leckstein has said. All three lots are owned by different entities.

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