West Long Branch: The governing body has wrestled for years about what to do with “95 Poplar”, the old borough hall offices that had housed police, council and court room, and other borough services until being moved to other locales. Now with the transfer of Building Department functions to the City of Long Branch, the issue may be gaining momentum, despite Hurricane Sandy induced delays.
Of major concern was the work environment issues; unhealthy mold was the main reason for abandoning "95". Some have said it’s just an “apply lots of Clorox” issue, and others say it is much more, and a costly approach to keep 95 Poplar for other uses or even to sell it.
Office furnishings and materials in the building that were not taken to the new borough hall will be sold or junked. Much of what's there is reusable and should find a new owner.
In all cases the “Keep it” idea is costly. Tearing it down or leaving it costs money. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the WLB Library is attached. Demolishing “95” means work on the library, a place most important to borough residents and local children. The cost of demolition includes engineering and actual removal work. There is no economical way to save the building.
The "Old Borough Hall" goes back to the Norwood Country Club era, a “fix it to serve town needs” project to begin with. The library has kept pace with modernization and improvement like the comfortable fireplace reading and meeting area which James Delehanty shepherded into place. The core holds a conference room and art exhibition space that serves kids programs as well.
Councilman Jose Villa has the matter under his wing. The architects are finalizing the plan to demolish and to keep the remaining library structure in proper repair and appearance. Details and costs are in progress. The target date for completion is mid to late Summer.
The photos with this article show the library and the cornerstone near the old section to be removed. The old offices and the courtroom go. The library and WLB Community Center stay.