BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater’s venerable Redwood Inn will soon be a thing of the past.
The town council voted to sell the property at 1475 Mountain Top Road, and also earmarked $200,000 for demolition of the aging structure. Both ordinances were ratified following public hearings, although no members of the public made any comments.
The first ordinance authorized the public sale of the aforementioned property, lots 36 and 37 in block 653 of the Bridgewater Township tax map, which consists of 7.641 acres in all. Township administrator Michael Pappas said that it was the first step in the bidding process that the town has to follow.
The ordinance passed by a count of four affirmative votes and an abstention by council vice president Filipe Pedroso, who mentioned his earlier concerns regarding a change in zoning on the site. He had said previously that zoning on the site had been switched from R-50 (residential) to R-40 (single family and multiple dwelling residential), which he had originally voted against, as he believed it should have retained the R-50 designation.
The second ordinance provided for the appropriation of capital for the demolition of the existing building, including the authorization of the issuance of $190,000 worth of bonds or notes of the township, to finance at least part of the appropriation.
Pappas explained that there are at least 10 firms interested in bidding on the demolition, and he added that the future demolition at Camp Cromwell will attract similar attention, if not more. He also said the bonds will be paid with proceeds from the sale of the Mountain Top Road property.
The fair market value of Lots 36 and 37 in Block 653, which are owned by the township and not needed for public use, was given as $1,750,000 at the previous council meeting on Oct. 5, when the ordinance was first introduced.
The township acquired the lots in question in a deed from the Al Falah Center in April 2017, in exchange for a portion of property owned by the town on Route 202/206. That was part of a settlement of litigation between Al Falah and the town, the former of which had sued after the planning board denied its application to build a mosque on the former Redwood Inn property.
Last month, the Bridgewater planning board approved a seven-lot conforming residential subdivision that will utilize a cluster subdivision design, as per the ordinance.
Council president Howard Norgalis said the bond will most likely be paid off within a year.
“The shorter the better,” he said.
Councilman Allen Kurdyla asked about the township putting up $200,000 for the demolition, and why it didn’t put that responsibility on the bid recipient instead. Norgalis responded that there are a number of environmental issues on the property, including the removal of oil tanks and the presence of asbestos, and that it will take six to 12 months for a bid recipient to “re-do what we’ve done.”
Norgalis added that the town knew what was there on the site and should take care of it, by doing what it needs to do for residential construction.
Pappas said there has been a lot of discussion about offering a “clean slate,” and that lengthening the process would reduce the number of bids.
Councilman Timothy Ring said he had spoken with director of municipal services Thomas Genova on potentially using the Redwood Inn building for emergency services training, but that option didn’t pan out.
“It’s in extremely dangerous condition now,” said Ring, who added it was best to take the structure down.
The ordinance again passed with four affirmative votes and an abstention by Pedroso.