TUCKERTON — Hurricane Sandy destroyed Tuckerton’s police station, forcing its seven officers to share space with other employees, but soon all borough offices will see relief with the completion of a new borough hall.
In January, the borough purchased the former Coastal Learning Center, one mile north of the existing borough hall on Route 9, for $525,000. The facility previously served special education students ages 5 to 21 from sending districts in Ocean and Atlantic counties
Mayor George “Buck” Evans said the facility had sat empty and for sale for an extended period of time and it made sense for the borough to purchase the building in January.
“We’re thinking that in about six weeks the new borough hall we be open for use,” Evans said.
Evans said the borough hopes to recoup some of the cost of the purchase and renovations from Hurricane Sandy storm damage reimbursements. Although the existing borough hall was not damaged during the storm, the police department on Green Street was flooded with raw sewage and condemned after Hurricane Sandy.
In the weeks after the storm, police officers first shared cramped quarters in the small borough hall on Main Street and later were remanded to a temporary trailer adjacent to the closed police station.
Evans said the borough offices had to move out of the current borough hall because the building was aging and has served its purpose.
“Now we’re bringing our police department to the new building and everything will be under one roof. By the time you take cost of building a new police department, this was a much cheaper option,” he said.
The new building is not turnkey-ready, but Evans said a large group of volunteers are working inside the building to prepare it for move in later this spring.
“Borough employees have come in as well, on their own time, to do some of the work. It’s been a cooperative effort by everyone in the community,” Evans said.
Tuckerton Councilman Sam Colangelo is doubling as the project manager for the new borough hall’s renovations. Sunday he was overseeing some work at the site.
The new facility — about 6,500-square-feet — is double the size of the existing building, Colangelo said.
The biggest undertaking at the building was updating everything so it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The section of the new borough hall that will be the most work — and completed last — is the municipal court and council chambers, Colangelo said.
Work is focused on the section of the facility that Colangelo calls “The Nerve Center”. This is where the borough tax assessor, tax collector, finance officer, borough administrator and clerk will be located, he said.
Surrounding municipalities in southern Ocean County already have their police departments and all other departments under one roof.
“We didn’t start out like that, but we’re taking that direction now,” Colangelo said.
One week after the storm, police — a force of seven officers in the town of about 3,500 residents — started using Borough Hall on East Main Street as a temporary police station, but were required to use the Tuckerton State Police Barracks to jail anyone arrested, said Tuckerton Police Chief Michael Caputo.
That all changes now, Colangelo said.
Inmates from the Ocean County Jail were brought to the new borough hall to complete painting of the police department and build wooden shelving, he said.
The new Police Department features a locker room, offices for Caputo and Sgt. Chris Anderson, a private interview room and the borough’s own holding cell for anyone arrested, Colangelo said.
The projected changeover date and move-in for the police department and construction office is Wednesday, he said.
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