Officials say they are working on a first move toward transforming the municipal building into a location dedicated only to fire and police.

Under the plan, borough administrators will move into new offices to be built across the street. The new building may cost $800,000.

The fire company, police department and borough offices now are clustered together in the 35-year-old borough building.

Borough Solicitor Jack Dirienzo said the borough and fire company are close to an agreement to hire an engineering firm that would evaluate the municipal building’s suitability.

“They (the fire company and borough) would split the cost up to a total of $20,000,” he said.

The fire company is to choose an engineer, so the study will not be bid, Dirienzo said.

“It’s the next logical step in the process,” he said.

By the end of January, council may have a proposal for a new municipal building, too.

“I would like to have it all said and done – if everything goes well – prior to the end of 2007,” said Borough Manager Benedict Vinzani Jr.

A study should indicate costs of transforming the municipal building into a public safety hub, Vinzani said.

“We’re looking at some extra walls, carpeting, lighting systems,” he said. “These are not major structural changes.”

The most significant change for police would be a little more elbow room, police Chief Randy Cox said.

“Primarily, we need more space,” he said.

The extra room would allow officers to segregate victims and witnesses from defendants. It also would make way for more storage and a better place to keep evidence.

“Basically, the public safety building concept is the most attractive proposal I’ve seen on the table,” Cox said.

Fire company Solicitor Jim Cascio said the company’s board has yet to formally approve an agreement.

If police and firefighters take over the building, new borough offices would be built in a lot across Union Street, Vinzani said.

Early estimates put a price of about $800,000 on the construction, though no official study has been done on a proposed 7,000- to 8,500-square-foot building.

“Financing options remain to be seen until we know what numbers we’re dealing with,” Vinzani said.



Kecia Bal can be reached at 445-5103 or kbal@tribdem.com.

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