Opting to not wait any longer for cost estimates on demolishing the American Legion, the River Edge Council split along party lines to begin drafting a funding ordinance of $45,000 for the removal of the Dutch-Colonial building that is plagued with flooding and mold issues.
Earlier in the month, the borough had received a 329-page document by Brinkerhoof Environmental Services providing an inconclusive report for the River Edge American Legion Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, which could not prove the existence of an underground oil tank on site along with any use of lead paint or asbestos inside the building.
"The building is in poor condition, it's functionally obsolete and I don't think it has a viable future," Councilman Edward Mignone said.
And while the entire governing body is supportive of removing the detoriating building, Democrats Kathleen Murphy and Thomas Papaleo voted against the measure citing concerns about the potential impact on what is believed to be a nearby stream and fiscal responsibility, respectfully.
"There is a stream by the building which could prevent rebuilding anything in its place if this is torn down," Murphy said. "
Although the status and definition of the exact stream has not yet been determined, with some council members referring to it as a "sewage ditch."
"I'm concerned about spending close to $500,000 on this and I don't know how to justify that," Papaleo said. "The roof is in good condition and there is no need to demolish it at this time. I'd prefer we make good use of something we spent money on rather than walk away from it."
He suggested removing the mold in the building for now and revisiting the issue at a later date.
"For three years now, I've still not heard one viable idea of what we should do with it," Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni said. "The building is a mess and it floods everytime it rains."
But in the end the Republican majority favored moving forward to demolishing the building in a 4-2 vote. Funding for the demolition had previously been set aside in the capital budget for 2012 and the ordinance would be introduced in early September.