TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN – At the July Township Committee meeting, the Committee authorized awarding of a contract to Joseph Porretta Builders, Inc. for performance of improvements to the Township’s Municipal Court building. The proposed changes address ADA compliance issues concerning access to the meeting room.

The Municipal Court is used not only for court hearings but also Township meetings. Currently, there is a lever operated stairlift that sits on a track and provides some mobility to those unable to use the steps leading upstairs. However, it no longer conforms with federal regulations.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities call for vertical wheelchair lifts, also known as platform lifts. According to the law, services, programs and activities conducted by public entities must be readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities.

Sign Up for Barnegat/Waretown Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The allocated costs for the vertical platform lift and building improvements is $182K. The Township’s share of expenses is offset by a $32K grant from the ADA.

Deputy Mayor Ken Baulderstone expressed his concerns about doing further work to the building. “I don’t think we should keep sinking money into an old building,” shared Baulderstone. “I’d like to see us build something new.”

Mayor Ben LoParo and Committeewoman Lydia M. Dodd pointed out that new construction could cost the Township at least $700K. 

“Right now, we have to get this done,” said LoParo. “This seems like our best option.”

When it came down to approval of Resolution 2019-208, Bauderstone voted against authorizing changes to the existing structure. He said, “I really don’t see how building something could cost $700K. I was only talking about a new meeting room.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.