Legion Funding Ordinance Passed Over by Planning Board

A borough courtesy sent the American Legion funding ordinance for review even though any action has been delayed until November

While the River Edge Planning Board's main duties are to update and enforce the borough's Master Plan, the board was recently offered the opportunity to review a funding ordinance that called for the demolition of the American Legion. But with the Mayor and Council opting to wait until November to decide the building's fate, members on the Planning Board agreed to wait as well.

"According to the agenda and I'm not sure why it's on the agenda, is the funding for the American Legion demolition," acting chairman Robert Nyman said. "I've learned that officially there is no action by the council on this property and there is nothing for us to do at this point. It's not been officially referred to this board for its impacto on the master plan."

Early last week, the Council was initially supposed to vote on utiliizing the $45,000 in the capital budget for the demolition after postponing the vote in mid-September. It was decided in late August to move forward with the removal of the Dutch-Colonial building that has been plagued with flooding and mold issues over the past three years.

"We reviewed the demolition component in the capital budget earlier this year," Nyman said. "There is nothing in there for any sort of construction though."

In the past, the governing body will refer a capital project to the Planning Board for review to determine if it complies with the Master Plan. But the Board can only choose to either endorse the project or not and provide comments, but would not vote on a project.

"We don't really get an opportunity to act on it," Planning Board member James Arakelian said. "An example would be when they redid the Fire Department across the street. We got an opportunity to comment, but it was not under our purview to vote on it."

River Edge 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. Due to the age of the building, approximately between 80 to 90 years old, there is a greater likelihood that an oil tank, lead paint and asbestos are located on the property.

Architect Peter Pulice provide an estimate that put  as the building is not ADA compliant and the basement would have to be gutted for mold removal. Recently Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo had received a new quote for mold removal at just over $25,000. At the same time, Moscaritolo, Council President Paul Cordts and Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni met with a contractor which placed rehabiltiation costs, not including the mold removal, at about $200,000, according to a report on northjersey.com.

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