Montgomery Township officials with a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the completion and opening of Montgomery’s new municipal center.
The township has long-awaited a new municipal headquarters and has not had a new building complex in decades.
Montgomery Township Mayor Devra Keenan, along with members of Montgomery’s Township Committee, the New Jersey State Legislature and officials from Somerset County, celebrated the new center on June 16 at the center’s location, 100 Community Drive, Skillman.
“I want to thank the residents of Montgomery, who are among the most dedicated citizen volunteers that you will find in any community. This building is for you,” Keenan said. “It will become a wonderful place to participate in public meetings and serve on boards and commissions. This facility is designed for citizen engagement and transparency using all of the technology of the day.”
She further said the new center brings to the community a “gathering place.”
The new comprehensive complex is more than 62,000 square feet and includes a new Somerset County library branch.
The library branch accounts for 20,000 square feet. This new branch includes: small study rooms, a conference room, a children’s section, a lounge area for parents and casual readers, and a sound proof studio for podcasting and recordings and lockers outside for after-hours pick-up of books via a code sent to mobile phone or device, according to officials.
The municipal council meeting room, library and Montgomery Township police department are on the first floor of the building. The second floor contains all other municipal offices such as the Engineering Department.
There are 11 formal meeting rooms. The largest can accommodate 100 people.
According to Montgomery officials, the new municipal center was designed by DMR Architects out of Hasbrouk Heights and building complex construction was done by Debco Inc. of Wayne.
“We have been working on this project for a little over four years. Two and half years of a design process and development and a year and half of construction,” said Kurt Vierheilig, lead designer at DMR Architects. “I hope residents and visitors can appreciate the building for how it responds to the history of Montgomery Township and then see it for how it looks at what the future has to hold.”
The center is on a 45-acre site located at the corner of Route 206 and Orchard Road. The site, which was purchased by Somerset County for $5.9 million, used to be the home of corporate offices for ConvaTec.
The new municipal center was needed because the current municipal building did not have sufficient space for employees and services, officials said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Montgomery’s population has increased from 7,360 in the 1980s to 23,502 in 2021.
“We are here to cut the ribbon for a beautiful state-of-the-art library, police operations center and municipal offices designed to meet the needs of the township well into the future,” Township Administrator Donato Nieman said. “Montgomery has become a sophisticated suburban municipality with a population approximately of 24,000 and meets a facility that better serve its residents. The completion of this project is the end of a long journey.”
Montgomery secured a 30-year loan of $35 million with an interest rate of 1.75% to finance the project working through the Somerset County Improvement Authority (SCIA), a shared services program providing an alternative funding mechanism for municipalities.
The township will be paying $1.9 million annually towards the loan for the project.
“It is touching to see so many members of the community from different sectors. From residents, current elected officials, former officials, county officials and to the state government this was a joint project,” Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-16) said. “We did receive a generous, more than $5 million, state library grant and [it] shows state government is supporting libraries and coming together.”
Some $5.37 million in state library funding was secured, which went towards the new library’s construction.
“This really is a once in generation type of investment in a community like Montgomery and we really tried to incorporate as many perspectives as we could. I think this is going to be a really wonderful space,” Jaffer said. “The coordination between Montgomery and Somerset County and the state funding was essential for this new municipal center project.”
The center also includes green space around the building, an events plaza and rain garden.