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Howell Council Closes a Chapter with Town Hall Meeting

October 16 meeting to be held at new building

When Mayor Robert Walsh gaveled Tuesday night's council meeting into adjournment he did so for what will likely be the last time at the Preventorium Road Town Hall. 

The next time the council is scheduled to meet the plan is for that to be the first meeting in the new Municipal Building, formerly known as the Global Building. As they sat at the dais for the last time some members of the council looked back fondly at their time in the building while looking forward to the future. 

Councilman Juan Malave said in his time on the council the building has been a special place for him and the residents of the township. "I believe that not just for me, but I speak for the rest of us when I say we're going to miss coming to this building," he said. "Many of the residents are going to miss it as well."

Deputy Mayor William Gotto said he has "fond memories" of the building from before his time on the council. He said he remembers coming for a meeting on Student Government Day when his daughter was one of the participants in what has been a long standing tradition in the township. "I remember sitting out there as a proud parent and watching her read the resolutions that were prepared by Bruce Davis," he said of the project first started by the former Township Clerk.

Mayor Robert Walsh also said he will miss the building but said he is looking forward to the future. "It's just time for a new chapter," he said. 

Whether it is the current council or after the election in November, there are still questions about what will happen with the old buildings. At Tuesday night's meeting that was also discussed by some of the current members. "I sure hope that future administrations will do everything they can to preserve and protect this building because it is in my opinion a historic site and it should be treated as such," Malave said.

He also said he is looking forward to seeing what meetings will be like in the new building. "Everything comes to an end at some point and this building has served the community well. I'm looking forward to the new place and the start of a new chapter in that new building."

For Gotto, the last meeting came with mixed emotions as well. "I was a big fan of replacing it (the building), but that doesn't mean I'm not going to miss it," he said. "I'm looking forward to going to a new one and starting a new chapter in our history."

He added that the building, which dates back to the early 1900's, "does deserve its own place in history," and he hoped that "time will allow us to do the right thing for these building." 

Now that her office and Township Clerk Penny Wollman's staff have moved to the new building Township Manager Helene Schlegel said she believes the next move will be for the people in the tax building. She said the final step in the transition will be for the people in the engineering building to make the move to Route 9.

There are still meetings scheduled to be held at the old building including a public hearing for New Jersey American Water on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and a planning board meeting on Thursday night. The next council meeting is scheduled for October 16.

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