Commissioners’ measure allows bid on bank building

Walnut Street location discussed as new police headquarters

EMILY LIU/The Sun: Haddonfield Borough Hall

The Haddonfield Board of Commissioners held a special action meeting on Jan. 10 to pass a resolution allowing a bid on the vacant Bank of America Building on Walnut Street.

The hope is that the building can be used as a new headquarters for the borough police.

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“There’s a bid process going on for that building; all this does is allow us to engage to make the bid to purchase,” explained Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich. “Because it’s public funds, we have to authorize the action to bid.”

The bid is for an amount not to exceed $2.5 million. It would be funded by unused money allocated for environmental and mechanical work to remediate water penetration and related issues at current police headquarters. The bid deadline was extended to Jan. 16.

“To date, we have not utilized all of those funds, so the remainder of those funds will be allocated for acquisition should we be deemed the successful bidder,” Bianco Bezich wrote in an email.

According to a press release from the borough, the police department has been headquartered in the basement of borough hall since inception and attempts to relocate it have been proposed since 2001. The current building has failed to meet compliance with the New Jersey Department of Corrections for 20 years, but “Chief (Jason) Cutler was informed that no more exceptions would be afforded. 

“HPD’s current facility cannot be expanded or rehabilitated in accordance with current regulations without a significant investment in expansion and a complete redesign of the existing municipal building,” the release noted. “By contrast, the Bank of America property will require minimal retrofitting to comply with NJDOC standards.”

There have been numerous attempts to retrofit or relocate the headquarters, including expanding the building into the parking lot, an idea that dates back to 2001. In 2016, an idea was promoted to acquire a portion of the borough post office. Neither proposal came to fruition. 

The next board of commissioners meeting is Monday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m.

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