Longport is moving forward with renovations of its historic Borough Hall, formerly the Betty Bacharach Home for Afflicted Children.

Borough Engineer Dick Carter said upgrades to the vacant third floor, which will be used for records storage, will allow Longport to install an HVAC system on the second floor.

"We want to take the existing system that's actually below ground level in the hall and move it above flood elevation," he said.

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The renovations are part of a $4.5 million bond that will also fund extensive bulkhead repairs and Hurricane Sandy-related expenses, Carter said.

Mayor Nick Russo said the commission decided years ago to renovate the hall in several phases instead of investing in a new building.

"It's certainly cheaper, it's structurally sound and it's a lot less expensive than doing new construction," he said.

Borough Hall was built in 1924 and housed the children's hospital for decades. Longport took over the property in 1990.

Carter said the borough previously completed a $200,000 renovation of commission chambers and $150,000 in bathroom upgrades in 2011. He does not anticipate any asbestos mitigation for the latest project.

Once the records room is moved to the third floor, he said, the borough can then move the HVAC system to a part of the second floor that was once a kitchen.

This summer, Carter said, the borough will begin work on the damaged 11th Avenue jetty, with a number of bulkhead improvements planned elsewhere throughout Longport.

Russo said the Borough Commission has also authorized Carter to contract an independent engineer to assess the water tower.

In 2011, the borough awarded a $600,000 contract to the Gloucester Township-based Beckett Enterprises to repair and repaint the 125-foot-tall tower at the intersection of 31st and Devon avenues. Work stopped last year before the project was complete.

The assessment will help the borough figure out how much work is left to be completed and could prove necessary if the matter ends up in litigation, Russo said. It will be funded from the $52,000 the borough has withheld from Beckett.

Contact Wallace McKelvey:


Follow Wallace McKelvey on Twitter @wjmckelvey


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