Tabernacle considers repurposing its community center

Facility could potentially be used to house township offices

Tabernacle Town Hall (Alyssa Biederman/The Sun).

The landscape of Tabernacle could look different in the coming years.

At a meeting on March 8, committee members discussed ways to make better use of township-owned property. The list included the community center and the one room schoolhouse near Tabernacle schools.

The community center has seen a dramatic decrease in use during the pandemic, said Doug Cramer, director of public works. The building usually serves a meeting place for Scout troops and the historical society, as well as a storage facility for emergency equipment. 

Several years ago, the building was renovated to be ADA compliant, but the township would have to upgrade the center’s roof, insulation and HVAC system in order to repurpose it.

“We have looked at other proposed uses to get more use out of the building,” Cramer explained. “We looked at how we can use it for the township and for the township residents.”

One option is to move several township offices, including the fire company and public works, into the building and allow community groups to meet at the firehouse. Another is to house municipal court at the center; the township currently pays Woodland to use its court.

The building could also be decommissioned for public use and instead be used as a storage facility, or the township could sell it entirely. The decision comes down to the viability of the septic system, Cramer noted. The committee agreed that it will return to the topic around June.

“I’d like to come back to this when we can have something more established,” Cramer said. “Give a more complete plan before we make a decision on whether to sell the property.”

The committee also talked about potentially taking control of land that includes a one room schoolhouse on Carranza Road. The schoolhouse is currently owned by the historical society and used as a museum.

The land had previously been used as sports fields and to host festivals and other public events, said Committeeman Joseph Barton. There is not yet a plan for what the land would be used for if the township acquired it.

Barton spoke with district Superintendent Shaun Banin and a school board member about giving the land to the township free of charge. 

“The taxpayers have fully paid. [The land has] already been bought and paid for with tax dollars,” Barton noted. “Why will we pay again?”

The committee agreed to create a plan that maps out the areas the township is interested in and will present it to the school board in the future.

The next committee meeting will be held on March 22 at 7:30 p.m.