Tabernacle officials and residents face questions on what to do with the old town hall building in the center of town: Should it be restored and reopened as the township’s municipal building, or simply restored in a limited capacity. Should the municipality move ahead on a new municipal complex?
More than 40 years after the Tabernacle Historical Society took up residence in the hall, the township committee last month held a “town hall-style” information session for the public at Seneca High School. It was the first meeting since the pandemic forced the hall’s closure.
“We know there have been a lot of questions about the old town hall and a potential new town hall,” said Mayor Sam Moore. “Right now, the building subcommittee has been working with the township staff and professionals, and we are in discussions about not only the creation of a new town hall, but potentially reconstruction of the old town hall.”
The meeting included information related to the costs of land acquisition and construction for a new building and the funds that would be necessary to rehab the existing historic structure.
Major concerns included the town’s master plan, what might be found behind the walls of the facility given its age, office space and how the character of the town will be affected.
Mark LeMire, who co-chairs the township’s land development board, questioned the hall’s future.
“The master plan very much involves the center of our town, which is town hall,” said LeMire, who also chairs the town’s recreation committee. “Any plans going forward in rectifying the situation with town hall, or any additional facilities, I really think needs to be put in context of our master plan, which is trying to improve the town center.”
With a general estimate of $600 per square foot for a new building, there are a number of things that need to be looked into before officials can obtain hard figures. The issue in the foreground is that Tabernacle’s municipal government needs a fully functional municipal building, and the existing town hall isn’t designed for that.
The future of the hall resides with residents and the Tabernacle Historical Society. For information, visit the society’s website at tabernaclehistoricalsociety.org.