BELMAR, NJ — The former First United Methodist Church building is expected to soon become a community center for borough seniors and a hub for scouting activities.

The Belmar Council is in the process of executing an agreement with the church that will allow it to use the large complex, which once housed a church and school at the corner of Seventh Avenue and D Street. The community food pantry, which occupies the back of the facility, will remain in operation.

“This (agreement) allows us to finally have a senior center on the first floor and a more permanent place for the Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts on the second floor,” said Mayor Matthew Doherty at the July 11 meeting of the council, which authorized Borough Administrator Colleen Connolly to finalize the agreement.

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While church officials could not be reached for comment, Doherty said the church could no longer function as a church due to a decrease in congregants.

Under the terms of the proposed lease, Belmar would occupy the building through the end of 2017 with the option to renegotiate for an additional term. Since the borough’s Public Works Department would assume maintenance of the building, the borough would not be charged rent, Doherty said.

In addition, although the building underwent extensive renovations following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Doherty said that the condition of its boiler and roof still needs to be evaluated.

Councilman Brian Magovern said the facility had great potential as a community resource, but its operations needed to be overseen by a paid employee responsible solely for the building, even if on a part-time basis.

“There is great opportunity here, in benefiting the community, as long as we do it right,” he said.

Connelly said a trust fund earmarked for fees paid to senior programs could be explored as a funding source.

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