union ave school future

The Union Avenue School on Union and Winchester Avenues in Margate has been the site of city council meetings since Hurricane Sandy.

Danny Drake

Almost three years after it closed — and following several legal and maintenance issues — the Union Avenue School will officially be handed over to the city of Margate at a ceremony Thursday.

The school has been used as the location for city offices after City Hall was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and the handover of the title by the Margate Board of Education will take place in the same gym that has been used for council and other meetings.

“At this point, it’s been a very smooth transition,” Margate Mayor Mike Becker said. “It was a couple of years before all legal hassles were dealt with.”

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Negotiations to transfer the title began shortly after the school closed in 2010, Becker said, but the school had been placed on the state Green Acres protected registry — “Erroneously,” Becker said. “We don’t know how it got there.”

Proposals to use the classroom space for night classes by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey were put on hold after maintenance and mold issues, and the site was later proposed as an alternate site for the building department — which ended up there anyway after Sandy.

“We’re very excited about it,” Margate Schools Superintendent Theresa DeFranco said. “We feel like it’s a great opportunity for the city to make use of the facility.”

Becker did add that the decision to permanently move city operations to the Union Avenue School has not yet been made.

“It’s certainly worked out well for us,” said Becker of the city’s occupation of the building so far. “And I personally want to thank the Board of Education for keeping it in great shape.”

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