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Waiting on Site Plan Study:

Brooklawn Council Is Considering Leasing St. Maurice Property from School District

 

 

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 3.38.59

BROOKLAWN, NJ (CNBNewsnet)—Near the end of December, the Brooklawn Board of Education began to explore what to do with the former St. Maurice property at 401 Community Road. The Board had purchased the ground about four years ago after voters approved a $1.9 million bond referendum. In February CNBNews contacted Dr. Sam Rosetti, the Brooklawn School District Superintendent about the latest plans for the empty church and rectory.

 

 "The board and I will be exploring the district's options in the coming months so that we can do what is best for the students while minimizing the impact on the taxpayers of Brooklawn," said Rosetti.

Shortly thereafter the Brooklawn mayor and council hired Haddon Township architect William Lammey to conduct a site study in order to find out what needed to be done to the buildings/property to bring it up to code.  The borough is considering leasing the property said Ryan Giles, Brooklawn Administrator.

 

 At the council's February 20 executive session, according to the meeting minutes, Giles explained a procedure to use the church for a different usage than the school.  He asked the council to approve a plan to do a feasibility study on the church to determine if the borough can use the building for another purpose.  The study will cost around $25,000.  The borough is awaiting quotes from an architect to determine the actual cost.  Administrator Giles said if we want to do the study, we need to lease the church from the school.  The school has agreed to lease the property for approximately $10,000 per year.  This lease will allow Brooklawn to sublease the property to another entity as long as the entity is exempt from taxes or the use of the facility is nonprofit.  After a long conversation, the council agreed to move forward with the study.

Regarding the cost of the study, Giles said on Monday (May 7, 2018), "The cost is approximately $25,000 fully funded within our budget. We are still in the research phase of the project.  We need to make it ADA/barrier-free before we can use it for anything.  We first need to find out the cost of the project to make it ADA (American Disability Act) compliant.  We have ideas for the use of the facility but we need to know if all this is feasible from a cost perspective.  We have applied for grants for the initial phase of the project if we move forward.

 "Lammey will provide an environmental impact study of the property inside and out.  Do the civil engineer work needed to determine how to proceed with ADA access.  He will also determine updates needed to bring the building to code."

Four years ago the Brooklawn School District wanted to use the property and the buildings, a church, and rectory for offices and classrooms. A group of residents, who were against the plans, formed the Brooklawn Concerned Citizens (BCC) who adamantly opposed the idea because they said it was not needed. And, it was too costly. Ron Villanova, spokesman for the group cited the cost of the removal of the asbestos, an oil tank and lead base paint to bring the property up to code.

 He also mentioned a letter from the state Department of Education Office of School Facilities, dated September 19, 2017, that denied the district's request to use the building for a teaching facility "due to the discovery of a natural gas transmission pipe proximate to the existing church building (the proposed classroom annex). The transmission pipe poses an unacceptable safety risk,” stated the letter.

Asked about that letter from the state, Giles said he doesn't know what the state's problem is with that natural gas pipe line.  He said, "That line consists of 300,000 miles of pipe that stretches across the United States. The pipe line travels straight across the St. Maurice Church parking lot up Route 130 towards Gloucester City to the King of Pizza restaurant, at Route 130 near Market Street where it is only 50 yards from the Gloucester City High School. If that ever explodes it would wipe out miles of homes and businesses."

When asked why the Brooklawn School District doesn't lease the property to someone instead of mayor and council getting involved, Giles said the school board would have put the question on a ballot referendum. "That would take time and there would be more cost involved. I want to emphasize we are going to keep the residents informed about our plans for the property. The church grounds is a hot topic in our community and we want everyone to know we will not move ahead before we discuss the plans with our residents. Everything depends on the outcome of the site plan study."

The St. Maurice property was vacated by the Camden Diocese in 2011. That year Bishop Galante formally announced the establishment of St. Joachim Parish, formed through the consolidation of Annunciation, Bellmawr; St. Anne, Westville; and St. Maurice, Brooklawn effective on April 6, 2011. The former Annunciation Church became the worship site and seat of the new parish, serving the pastoral needs of the 1,685 families from Bellmawr, Westville, and Brooklawn.

 Related: The BCC Releases Updated Information about the Brooklawn School District's Church Property

 

 

Related: St. Maurice in Brooklawn and St. Anne's in Westville are upon those to be closed

 

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