Eatontown Council Continues to Debate Municipal Space Needs
Borough officials continue to discuss whether there is a space issue and if a potentially free building on Fort Monmouth is the answer.
The Eatontown Borough Council will have some new material to add to the very old topic of municipal space needs, which once again sparked a round of debate at the July 13 meeting.
Mayor Gerald Tarantolo received a memo late Wednesday afternoon from architect Kevin Settembrino of Buck Simpers Architect & Associates providing an estimate of $37,500 to perform a formal assessment of a potential new space for a municipal complex.
The mayor and council agreed to postpone discussion of the issue, including whether a space issue exists and what to do about it, until the July 27 meeting to allow all members to read the Red Bank architect’s proposal.
Tarantolo has made it clear on many occasions that he would like the borough to move municipal operations to Mallette Hall, which is the former CECOM space on the soon-to-close Fort Monmouth. The mayor has said that he hopes Eatontown would not have to pay for the building, but wants the council’s full support to negotiate the deal.
“I do have a plan,” said Tarantolo on Wednesday, “But I need the spiritual support of council.”
Settembrino has worked with the borough in the past on assessing space needs and would perform a feasibility study of Mallette Hall to be used as a new municipal complex and give officials more concrete data on which they could base their decisions.
Councilmen Kevin Gonzalez and Dennis Connelly do not think that a significant space issue exists to warrant the expenditure of borough funds.
“We can’t just keep saying ‘no’ for the sake of saying ‘no’,” said Council President Anthony Talerico of the need to collect data to make any decisions.
Talerico said he thinks the borough should approach the situation as a business and consider future benefits.
“We’re not going to look a gift horse in the mouth,” he said of the possibility of receiving Mallette Hall for free.
Connelly is skeptical that Eatontown would be given the building for free, pointing out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation left its Fort Monmouth location because it couldn’t negotiate a lease deal with the Department of Defense.
Talerico said that Eatontown should investigate what it would cost to acquire the building, which includes geothermal capabilities, a flat roof conducive to the installation of solar panels and an amphitheater.
“Go get the free building,” said Talerico to the mayor, “and I reserve the right to vote ‘no’ later.”