Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Debate on Legion Building Revived

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Debate on Legion Building Revived

Article excerpt

RIVER EDGE -- Officials have restarted talks to build a community center at the site of a nearly 70-year-old American Legion building that has been the subject of stalled initiatives since the borough purchased the property in 2009.

Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said the committee he formed last year to determine the needs of various community groups is working to put together two proposals for a community center: one that rehabilitates the American Legion building and one that demolishes it and erects a new structure in its place. "We're all spread out," Moscaritolo said, referring to the various venues that host senior, cultural and recreational groups in addition to private events. "We rely upon the generosity of our houses of religion. But there's no public-owned building where we can have all these activities."

The borough purchased the American Legion property for $425,000 in 2009, but the Borough Council was immediately divided over whether to revamp the building or tear it down. Removing mold from the basement was estimated to cost about $300,000, and full rehabilitation was later estimated to cost upward of $1 million. The building was left to decay. In 2011, the council rejected a federal $100,000 Community Development Block Grant that would have helped repair the building but also restricted its use primarily to senior citizens. In 2012, the council went so far as to introduce a resolution to demolish the building, although it never passed.

Councilman Edward Mignone said that 2015 could bode well for the project because the borough is in much better financial shape than it was when it purchased the property. He also pointed to a public opinion survey conducted by the borough that, while somewhat discredited by a minuscule sample size, revealed support for consolidating programs into a single community center.

"It can't just stay fallow for perpetuity," Mignone said. …

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