This town hall really is for sale

Press releases from many organizations which years ago arrived in the newsroom by mail once a day now find their way into my email inbox every couple of minutes.

As I view the name of an unfamiliar sender (i.e., Prince Akeem) and/or the questionable contents of the subject line (i.e., “My grandson is in jail. Can you help me?”), I find myself in a constant state of hitting delete, delete, delete.

While checking my inbox on July 5, I came across an email from a sender I did not recognize, but with a subject line that caught my eye and my imagination: “Borough of South Toms River Auctions Municipal Complex Building.”

Wait a second. A town is selling its municipal complex? Now that is electronic spam I had to see.

It turns out that email was not spam, but a real press release from informing me and by extension you that for the right price, a buyer can own his own municipal complex in a small Ocean County community.

Let the buyer beware, however, because owning this real estate will not make you the mayor, emperor or grand poobah of the borough of South Toms River – and there goes my dream of being the ruler of something.

By the way, South Toms River (population about 3,700) should not be confused with the larger township of Toms River (population about 92,000).

To quote from the press release: “Beginning July 1, anyone interested in purchasing the old municipal building located at 144 and 148 Mill St. now has their chance. The Borough of South Toms River is selling the property via online auction on the government auction website

“The property for sale consists of two separate buildings. The main building is the South Toms River Municipal Complex, which totals 4,294 square feet of gross building area … In addition, there is a 1,058-square foot building that was occupied by the South Toms River Sewerage Authority. … The total site area is 0.95 acres … Bidding starts at $250,000, with a $5,000 deposit required to bid …

“Joseph Kostecki, borough administrator who is facilitating the auction, has advised that the entirety of the borough has been designated as an ‘area in need of rehabilitation’ which provided them the authority to offer the new buyer a five-year tax exemption or abatement as a financial incentive to encourage rehabilitation of the area.’ ”

The auction will end on Sept. 1 and the property on Mill Street is available for inspection, according to the press release. South Toms River has apparently moved its municipal operations to a new space which is not for sale, at least at the moment.

The unexpected and the unusual have always made this career choice interesting to me. The people I meet and the events I attend and write about keep me going.

A municipal complex for sale? Perhaps that is a bit out of the ordinary, but all things considered after 35 years, it was another morning of opening the mail and checking out the leads and opportunities a day at the newspaper has to offer.

Mark Rosman is a managing editor with Newspaper Media Group.