Town will sell school site to Riva Avenue church

BY VINCENT TODARO Staff Writer

BY VINCENT TODARO
Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — The property of the former Weber School is expected to soon be owned by the nearby St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church.

The Township Council passed a resolution Monday to accept the $201,000 bid the church submitted for the township-owned site, which is located at Riva Avenue and Hardenburg Lane, and is contiguous to the church’s property.

Township officials said they did not know what the church expects to do with the building or the property.

Rafik Wahba, secretary of the church’s board of directors, told the Sentinel yesterday that the plan is to demolish the old school building, and construct a new facility that will house a day-care center, an annex to the church’s youth fellowship and community affairs unit, a computer center and a library.

The township began proceedings to sell the property last year, an effort that was met with some resistance from residents who live near the former school. However, no one spoke on the issue during Monday’s meeting. Some residents previously said they felt the Weber School building should be maintained due to its historic value, and contended that the building only needed some minor fix-ups.

The property was deeded to the Board of Education in 1923, and the board eventually gave the property to the township. A deed restriction states that the land can only be used for public education purposes.

Township Attorney Michael Baker has said however that the deed does not actually restrict the use to public schools, and a private educational use will be permitted.

Officials also said it would be up to the purchasing entity to make sure the “public school” restriction is not be binding, something that could cause the property to revert to the heirs of the person who turned over the school 83 years ago.

The township’s resolution says invitations to bid were sent to “adjacent property owners on two different occasions with a copy of the bid specifications.”

The municipal clerk received bids on Jan. 19, and according to the resolution, only the church’s bid complied with the terms and conditions in the specs. The township indicated that the lowest amount of money it would accept in a bid was $170,000.

In selling the land, township officials said they will accomplish a number of objectives, as it will bring in revenue, likely bring about an improvement in the appearance of the neighborhood and remove a liability from the township’s hands.