By Ron Leir
At long last, Lyndhurst is experiencing the seemingly forever anticipated “big move.”
The township has issued certificates of occupancy, allowing the Lyndhurst Health Department and Registrar’s Office to vacate space on Stuyvesant Avenue and relocate to The Heritage apartment complex at 601 Riverside Avenue
This move cleared the way for Township Clerk Helen Polito and her staff to shift from their cramped quarters at the Municipal Building on Valley Brook Avenue to the emptied health offices.
Next to the clerk will be two part-time township fire inspectors and the township fire official who are moving from a shared tiny second floor space at the Municipal Building to new offices in a separate wing of the Stuyvesant Avenue building.
Part of the municipal Finance Department — tax assessor and collector offices — reportedly may also be making the move to Stuyvesant Avenue.
Mayor/Public Safety Director Robert Giangeruso, who currently has a small upstairs office at the Municipal Building, is expected to take over the old Township Clerk’s space.
Commissioner Richard DiLascio said Lyndhurst officials have needed to do something to make the Clerk’s Office accessible to those physically impaired, as required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Since there are steps to be climbed to reach that office, Polito or a member of her staff had to leave the office to handle a request for information from a wheelchair-bound person or someone otherwise unable to negotiate the steps.
Since the Stuyvesant Avenue building has a barrierfree wheelchair ramp access and since it’s just a block or so around the corner from the Municipal Building, officials concluded it was the best place for the Clerk’s office, DiLascio said.
Another advantage that the Clerk’s office will enjoy with the new space, DiLascio said, is having access to a spacious room where municipal records, including archival documents, can be easily stored.
“Being confined into a narrow space at the Municipal Building just doesn’t service that office,” DiLascio said.
There’s also more parking available at the Stuyvesant Avenue facility for visitors and employees, he said.
The food pantry, which is operated by the Women’s Club of Lyndhurst, will remain at the Stuyvesant Avenue building but is being shifted a few doors down the first-floor hall to a bit larger space formerly occupied by Township Public Affairs Commissioner Brian Haggerty.
“They need a bigger space because both the need and the donations to the pantry are greater,” Haggerty observed.
Haggerty said he can easily get along without having an office.
Meanwhile, members of the Health Department are settling in at their rent-free offices at 601 Riverside Avenue
The township is getting the use of about 8,000 square feet of space – at no cost – under an arrangement worked out with the previous owners of the building – a deal that the new owners are honoring, according to DiLascio.
Aside from the space that the five-member health staff is occupying, DiLascio said that the township will also have the use of a large room for “overflow” activities plus several smaller rooms where the township hopes to locate special needs classes for children.
“We’re currently negotiating with Catholic Charities (an arm of the Archdiocese of Newark) for that program,” he said.
The township has done much of the renovations to accommodate the new offices at Riverside and Stuyvesant aves. in-house, DiLascio said. The township spent about $35,000 for moving expenses, installation of computers and phones and renovations at Riverside Ave. including window blinds, office partitions, a counter top and two examination room sinks, said township Zoning Official Don Spagnuolo, who coordinated the moves.Back at the Municipal Building, DiLascio said that he and fellow commissioners are exploring the possibility of expanding the municipal court space and connecting the court with the Public Library next door to create the possibility of a “performing arts space.” “
All we’d have to do is knock out a wall to do that,” DiLascio said.
Additionally, he said, the township could explore the possibility of making the courtroom space available to neighboring communities as a “shared service.”
It took about a year and a half to accomplish the move to Riverside Avenue largely because of a protracted issue involving the installation of the HVAC system at the building, officials said.