The Coronavirus has given us the opportunity rethink how we provide services to the people of Bayonne. Traditionally, our Building Department has brought thousands of visitors to City Hall each year to apply for and pick up building permits. This has not been possible during the pandemic, because City Hall has been closed to the general public.
Looking ahead to when City Hall reopens to the general public, I have been considering ways to reduce the foot traffic there. Working with Construction Code Official Rich Bielinski, the Building Department chief, I have found a solution that will provide many benefits to the people of Bayonne. We are going to move the Building Department to one of the empty screening rooms at the former Frank Cinema at the South Cove Commons shopping center. The largest tenant in that building will be Lightbridge Academy, an educational daycare center. The Bayonne Building Department will occupy another portion of the former movie theater after the space is reconstructed. The tilted floor of the former screening room will be reshaped to make it more appropriate for use as an office. The former projection area on the second level could be used for storage.
This work will cost the property taxpayers nothing. Due to significant recent construction, the Building Department has substantial funds from construction permit fees. Those funds will pay for transforming a screening room into office space. We can use those same funds to cover a multi-year lease on the new space. The new location in the shopping center will have plenty of parking spaces for the public. The Building Department’s move will relieve some of the pressure on parking spaces in the neighborhood around City Hall. Since the Building Department will be located outside of City Hall, that new location would be able to offer earlier hours to builders and the public, so that they could obtain permits at the beginning of the work day.
By reducing the crowds at City Hall in the future, we will provide a better, more secure atmosphere for the members of the public and our municipal employees who come to the building each day.
Our goal is to move the Building Department to the former cinema during the next several months. We will make announcements about the move when everything is ready. We will continue to look for other opportunities to improve municipal services