BELMAR — The borough council introduced a $1.5 million bond ordinance on Tuesday night, with the hope of purchasing the former Belmar First Aid Squad headquarters. 

Ordinance 2021-11, which was introduced by unanimous consent, would make the funds available for the borough to attempt to acquire the half-acre property that formerly housed the BFAS, which ceased to exist on April 1. The ordinance still must have a public hearing and vote on final adoption. The next borough council meeting is scheduled for June 1. 

“The improvements hereby authorized and the purposes for which the obligations are to be issued consist of the acquisition of the First Aid Building,” the bond ordinance introduced on Tuesday night stated. The property is on the corner of Ninth Avenue and D Street. 

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Last week, Kenneth Pringle, the attorney representing the squad, told The Coast Star that the squad was selling its headquarters through a closed bidding process. Bids, he had said, are due on Thursday, May 20. 

According to bid documents, all bidders must fill out a certification stating that “if their bid is successful, they will not expand the nonconforming use of the property or redevelop it except as lots for single-family homes.”

“The property is located in a residential zone and the members of the first aid squad wanted to be sure that the property would not be developed in a way that would not be in the best interest of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Pringle, who is a former mayor of the borough. “That was really out of respect for the residents and neighbors of the property who have been very patient and supportive of the first aid and not withstand ambulances coming and going and sirens.”

Mr. Pringle said that multi-family housing such as apartments or condos would not be allowed on the site. The building is constructed on three lots, according to Mr. Pringle, with up to three single-family homes allowed to be constructed on the site. 

All bids are to be delivered to Neral & Company, P.A., 2510 Belmar Blvd., Suite i-14, in Wall Township by 2 p.m. on May 20. Bids will be opened at that location at the deadline.

The winning bidder, chosen by the members of the Belmar First Aid Squad, will be notified by May 27. 

At the borough’s last council meeting, on May 4, members of the borough’s governing body expressed support in purchasing the building in order to house the borough’s emergency services as well as to prevent a developer from knocking down the building and developing the property. 

The BFAS, which dates back to 1923 and styles itself as the oldest volunteer first aid squad in the country, announced in January that it would be shutting down on March 31, 2021. The announcement came as the squad and Belmar officials sparred over funding for the squad. 

Belmar and Lake Como utilized the services of the BFAS, and contributed funding to the squad in exchange for residents of those boroughs not having to pay out-of-pocket costs for medical transportation. The squad’s leaders have contended that Belmar, which allocates a yearly stipend of $33,000 for its services, was not paying enough to continue. 

For its part, the borough said it has helped the squad pay for supplies and equipment, as well as paid for staff to work at the beachfront during the summer season. 

The squad had asked the borough for an additional $40,000, bringing the yearly stipend to $70,000, but borough officials refused until financial records were turned over. 

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