By Mike Davis | Times of Trenton
January 05, 2015 at 4:21 PM
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - Robbinsville has closed on the purchase of a Route 33 property from Investors Bank and is expected to begin construction on a new municipal building this year.
Township attorney Mark Roselli announced the $803,715 sale, including closing costs, at the township council's reorganization meeting last week.
The council last year approved a $3 million bond to finance the purchase of the site and construct a new 15,000-square-foot municipal building, which township engineer and community development director Tim McGough said would take between nine and 12 months to build.
"While we're not going to be in the center of the township if you look at a map, we're going to certainly be in an area where a majority of people will have pretty easy access to it" said Council President Ron Witt, Jr., on Monday. "It will put a little bounce in people's steps as they get new digs to inhabit while they do work for the town and serve the residents."
The township has been without a permanent municipal building since 2006, when its headquarters — the former Robbinsville Elementary School on Route 130 — was rendered uninhabitable due to mold following a storm.
Since then, the township has rented space from local developer Sharbell Development, paying annual rent that reached more than $165,000 in 2014.
The new municipal building will consolidate all municipal offices except for the police station and municipal court, which will remain located on Route 130, Council Vice President Chris Ciaccio said.
Council meetings, which are currently held in the court trailer, will be relocated to the new building, Ciaccio said.
"It's the perfect spot for us," Ciaccio said.
Parking is a constant concern for Town Center residents and visitors, who see parking lots overflow during busy weekends and weeknights, Ciaccio said.
The new municipal building will come with a large parking lot open to the public after business hours and on weekends, while also allowing nearby residents to walk there in order to pay bills or acquire licenses, Ciaccio said.
"People bought into Town Center for the walking and the idea of a walkable community," Ciaccio said.
The path to acquiring the site, located on westbound Route 33 in the Town Center development, took longer than two years from the time it was first discussed.
In October 2012, township officials and Roma Bank executives broke ground on a proposed three-story retail and office space building, where the township would purchase the 9,000-square-foot top floor to use as its new municipal offices.
When that project fell apart in early 2013, after Roma Bank was bought out by Investors Bank, the township spent much of the next two years scrambling to find a new home, including the possibility of simply purchasing its current space from Sharbell.
Investors Bank eventually agreed to sell the property to the township, at what Witt called "not quite half of what they were looking for," with the caveat that the municipality won't pursue commercial uses on the site for 20 years.