October 6, 2011 |

Opinion

Borough assembly members owe the public an explanation on what happened to the idea of renovating the old gym and classrooms into a recreation center. Or, better yet, a vote.

Consider:

· The borough’s own scientific opinion survey in May found that 71 percent of residents supported converting the building into a recreation center with multi-purpose rooms.

· Borough-hired architects in 2010 identified the existing building as the municipality’s least expensive option – by far – for a rec center.

· The borough’s $40,000 downtown plan identified the school site as a potential centerpiece of downtown redevelopment.

· Well and Fit Community Council submitted to the borough a business plan for using the building as a wellness center, including information on similar ventures in other towns.

· Working independently, Dawson Construction, MRV Architects and the borough facility director each reached a rough estimate of $3.3 million for renovating the structure.

It’s not too late. The assembly could delay an awarded contract on demolishing the structure and call a special election to ask the voters to decide a $3.3 million bond for building renovation.

A renovated old school gym may be the only recreation center local voters are willing to fund, but it won’t be an option if demolition goes ahead. -- Tom Morphet