Town weighs new uses for old library, town hall space


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  • Photo by Ann Genader Possible changes in use of space in the West Milford municipal building on Union Valley Road, along with space in the old library on Ridge Road, are under study.



BY ANN GENADER

Now that the new library and community center is open, the township is looking for ways to better use vacant space in the library's former location on Ridge Road.

The township is also weighing rearranging space in the municipal building, right around the corner, on Union Valley Road.

Because some rooms in the new library have been designated for township use, space will be available at town hall.

The Town Council has hired architect Brian Murphy, a local resident, for the project, according to the township clerk's office.

The total cost for the architect’s work is not to exceed $21,900 and the work is not to continue for more than 12 months, according to the announcement.

A building and space analysis done in 2013 by Charles Schaffer Associates LLC Architects-Planners of Newton included 33,600 square feet of space in the former Hillcrest Community Center.

The Macopin Road building, which is owned by the school district, was the township’s first consolidated school.

Opened in 1946, it replaced wooden one-, two- and three-room school houses scattered around the township.

Schaffer's study concluded that the Hillcreat building was not the best place for municipal offices.

The township has since transferred programs from Hillcrest to other places, including the West Milford Recreation Center (former PAL building) on Cahill Cross Road. The Board of Education has not yet announced any plans for the Hilcrest building's future use.

Schaffer's study did not create formal or detailed building, room or space layouts for municipal departments. He showed the available floor areas with necessary square footage to accommodate various departments. The design criteria was based on square footage allotted for each municipal department as outlined by the township.

Officials and professionals for the township have expressed concern that parts of town hall where the police department was originally located -- and where the tax and planning departments remain -- do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When people with mobility issues need the services of these departments, they have to meet with officials in a part of the building that is ADA compliant.

There are also other areas of the building housing municipal offices that also are non-ADA compliant. The building was constructed about 60 years ago, before ADA rules were in place. A two-wing addition was built later.

According to the 2013 study, the municipal building's lower level has a net floor area of 6,984 square feet. The report said the old library has 3,147 square feet on the main level and the same amount of space on a lower level.

Schaffer aslo found that the old library's main floor is ADA accessible from the street, but the basement level is not. He suggested the basement be used for archives storage only.

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