With ceremonial shovels in hand, Ocean County Commissioners joined with members of the Board of Social Services and other community representatives to mark the start of construction of a new building that will house the county’s extensive social services programs.
“Today marks the culmination of a few years of discussions and planning,” said the Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn, who serves on the Board of Social Services. “This building will serve as a centerpiece for the programs that help our residents who are going through difficult times.
“The delivery of the services provided here is often the first step to a better future for our residents,” Quinn said.
Joining Quinn at the ground breaking ceremony was Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who also serves as a member of the Board of Social Services, Vice Chairman of the Board of Social Services Pastor Peter M. Hartney Jr., Meredith Sheehan, Director of the Board of Social Services, numerous representatives of the buildings and construction trades.
The three-story, 121,000 square foot building at 1027 Hooper Avenue in Toms River, the site of the County’s Social Services complex is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022.
“We are combining the programs located in several old buildings into a state of the art complex that once completed will provide substantial savings in maintenance costs,” said Quinn. “Bringing all of these services under one roof will also increase efficiencies for the public we serve.”
Ocean County purchased 10 acres of the 1027 Hooper Avenue site and four of the current buildings located there. The site has been subdivided in order to construct the new building. The buildings purchased by the county will be demolished.
Building No. 2 on the site houses county government services including the Office of Senior Services, Consumer Affairs Department, Veterans Services Bureau, Human Services, and the Adjusters Office.
“Our savings will also include at least $3 million annually by no longer having to make lease payments on the buildings,” Quinn said. “In addition the new building will be energy efficient and the maintenance costs will be far lower.
“Part of the savings includes the reimbursement from the state and federal governments for housing the Board of Social Services along with the consolidation of the services into one building,” Quinn said.
The Ocean County Board of Commissioners awarded the project contract to Epic Management Inc. of Piscataway, at a price of $39.5 million.
“The age and current conditions of the buildings that house the Ocean County Board of Social Services programs have resulted in the need to replace the facilities,” Quinn said. “The maintenance costs continue to increase and in the long run, this new building will be far more beneficial for our citizens and our staff.”
According to Commissioner Haines, planning has been underway for the new building for more than two years.
“I am excited that we are finally here today to start construction on this new building,” she said. “I look forward to returning when it’s done so we can house our staff and programs in a state of the art facility.”
The Ocean County Board of Social Services, will use 50 percent of the new facility while Ocean County government departments will use 18 percent. The rest of the square footage will be for shared services including conference rooms and other common spaces. About 400 social services board workers will occupy the new building.
There will be 715 parking spaces for the new building along with continued ingress and egress from Hooper Avenue.
The new building will also house the county government offices located now in Building 2 along with the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, Ocean County Superintendent of Schools and Ocean County PIC (formerly Private Industry Council). Computer training rooms also will be available for job training in the new building.
“This new building will house programs that provide opportunities for many of our residents,” Quinn said. “We want this building to represent the lifeline offered by the Ocean County Board of Social Services and a symbol of possibilities for those citizens that need help to get ahead.”
The Board of Social Services administers over 50 programs to County residents including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), General Assistance, Child Support, Adult Protective Services, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Homeless Services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid and Statewide Respite.
“The staff of the Ocean County Board of Social Services assists hundreds of County residents every day. The programs they administer affect all parts of our populations from young families to the elderly,” Quinn said. “This new building will help accommodate those high numbers of people accessing these services and also provide improved working conditions for the social services staff and our other departments.”
The building design was done by Mott MacDonald, the site work was coordinated by French & Parrello Associates and the project will be overseen by T&M Associates.