The Township of Maplewood is looking for a new developer for 125 Dunnell Road, site of the old police station.
Although the town and Mark Built Home of Union had reached an agreement in principle last summer for a 33-unit residential rental development, final details of the deal were not worked out and the process dragged on through the fall and winter.
Mayor Vic DeLuca said that the sticking point was environmental remediation of the site.
The town is now preparing a letter of interest soliciting new developers for the site. This should be posted in 10-14 days.
Environmental issues had dogged the Mark Built deal throughout. DeLuca said that the town first removed one gas and one oil tank on the property and then cleaned the soil in the underground tank area. The town is now in the process of remediating soil under the property's garages. On March 14, a contractor will be removing asbestos from the garages' roofs. Following that, another contractor will take the garage building down.
As part of the agreement in principle, Mark Built was to bear the costs of demolishing the main building. "But what happens after the building comes down and we find contamination in the soil?" said DeLuca. He said the town was willing to pay for that remediation but would not "sign a blank check."
DeLuca said some amounts were bandied back and forth, but basically the town ran out of time. In preparing the 2011 budget, the town needed to decide whether or not it needed t o allocate money for demolition of the main building.
The demotion will require a $510,000 bond for demo and remediation. The amount for down payment has been included in the draft budget. The official budget will be introduced on March 15. DeLuca said that the inclusion of the amount does not affect the town's goal to reach a zero percent tax increase for 2011 as the amount was already figured into the draft budget.
DeLuca said the town was worried that, should the deal fall through and no money was allocated for demolition, sale of the building would be held up that much longer.
"To be honest, it's very disappointing that it fell through. We had 97% of the deal done," said DeLuca. He said that it was unlikely that the town and Mark Built would reach a deal now.
As it stands, DeLuca said the building will be demolished before the end of the year and the property cleaned up to the point where there are no restrictions for residential development. At the least, he felt, future negotiations with potential developers will be more straightforward as issues of demolition and remediation will be settled.