Stockton Public Stockton School Information – July 2023
Summary of Borough Council Actions:
The Borough of Stockton is considering the acquisition of the Stockton School from the South Hunterdon Regional School District (SHRSD). The district has offered to sell the school building to Stockton Borough for the sum of $1.00.
The school has three large rooms and two small rooms upstairs and a small room downstairs. The property includes a portion of the hillside and is described as 0.28 Acres and 68’ wide along South Main Street. Only a small part of the parking lot is part of the property and the Borough has investigated seeking an easement for access to the rest of the parking lot. Based on the Borough’s existing zoning restrictions, the Stockton School building may be used for anything except workshops, warehouses, or storage areas. The school is on the National Register of Historic Places and it has received nearly a half million dollars in grants in the past. The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office must approve any renovations or changes of use. They would likely be open to other uses of the structure.
The possible uses of the building have not been determined, but people have suggested moving Borough offices and operations to this location, since the existing Borough Hall needs significant upgrades to stay in use as a public meeting space. Other possible suggested uses have been as a community center or a library. The Borough could also consider leasing parts or all of the building to non-profit organizations. Public input is welcome.
Due to the small size and population of Stockton Borough, we have a very limited budget. This acquisition, therefore, requires a very careful financial evaluation. Repair and regular maintenance of the school could be costly. To offset these costs, people have suggested selling the existing Borough Hall, seeking grants, or leasing out portions of the school structure.
To investigate the condition and operating costs of the school, the Borough of Stockton has requested information from South Hunterdon Regional School District, held discussions with NJ Historic Trust, and held discussions with the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. The Borough has paid for a Phase 1 Environmental Investigation (See separate document), a building inspection (See link below), and a simple survey of the property. In addition, members of the Borough Council have toured the school and have consulted with a contractor (see comments below) and are seeking input from an environmental restoration company related to basement moisture.
The Stockton School has a wheelchair ramp, but the entrance and facilities are not ADA compliant, and would likely need upgrading. With the change of use, these upgrades may be required to allow public meetings. Several reports have been made, but a repair plan and a financing plan are not in place.
Information Gathered to Date:
Phase 1 Environmental Study Posted Separately.
Insurance Inspection Posted Separately.
Terrapin Building Inspection: http://www.homegauge.com/report/17686875/
Comments from Contractor based on Terrapin Building Inspection:
- The roof and attic seem okay. Need to fix/patch flashing, gutter replace where necessary, proper HVAC drainage, etc. Rough cost $5,000.
- Pest control and exterior concrete work is not in an area of expertise. These likely do not seem urgent, especially the stair height differences.
- Exterior siding, trim, windows, doors, trim, windows (some replacements), fascia. Rough cost $150,000.
- Plumbing: Change out the corroded valves and pipe sections that are failing, plus sump pump upgrade. There could be significantly more work on the cast/ galvanized sections in the future. Rough immediate cost $10,000.
- Electrical: The report seems okay, aside from cleaning up some of the breakers in the main box and changing out a number of the outlets to GFIs. Rough cost $5,000.
- Bathrooms: If you are going to renovate and add bathrooms and such you would have to consider more money for those upgrades.
- Heating portion of the report was not comprehensive. Problems with some of the baseboard electrical. Rough cost $4,000.
- The crawl space area seems to need some work with the supports not having any footings and possibly having to jack up the large span under the first floor. The soil needs a cover so the moisture doesn’t keep creating the mold. For this, a licensed company is recommended. Rough cost $50,000.
Information from school tour conducted by Mayor and Council representatives. This information is just observational by non-professional so some items below may be in error.:
- It is reported that in 2008-2010, using nearly $500,000 in grants, the whole building was jacked up and the sill plate for the foundation was replaced along with all of the siding.
- It is reported that the grant paid 50%, the state paid 40%, and the Borough paid 10%.
- It is reported that the carrying costs for the building (utilities, maintenance, etc.) are approximately $15,000 per year, but that may exclude work done by district staff.
- It is reported that the parking lot has been in shared use by the Presbyterian Church (1867), the school (1872), and the Catholic Church (1920). As stated below, the district has paved the lot, installed the fencing, and plows the lot.
- Peeling paint on some radiators and the need for cosmetic painting in other areas. The old floors were quite out of level near the edges of each room. They seemed solid underfoot, but require further investigation.
- Drop ceiling tiles look to be in acceptable condition.
- The bathrooms are old and designed for children. At the appropriate time, they would need renovating.
- Downstairs there is a small office room, a small bathroom, and a furnace room (also used for storage). It is reported that this room did get a wet floor during Tropical Storm Ida in 2021.
- In the downstairs hallway, there is a battery and a sump pump. This hallway was once a drive through tunnel.
- Upstairs there are three large rooms (approximately 25 x 25), three small bathrooms, two large bathrooms, a small office, and a small kitchen without appliances.
- There are no interior stairs connecting the floors. There are three sets of exterior stairs.
- There is an attic, which is accessed by a vertical ladder. It contains HVAC tubing and was once used to store school records.
- Several interior walls may not be load bearing as it is reported that they were added in 1954.
- It is reported that the roof shingles and decking were replaced three to four years ago and look to be in good order.
- The gutters are clogged and need immediate attention.
- In some areas, the bottom course of wood siding and the window surrounds look to be rotten from water damage and rot.
- Several of the metal doors have air gaps and rust.
- The exterior wood siding likely needs to be fully repainted.
- Almost half of the exterior is stone, which appears to be in good condition.
Exterior Areas and Maintenance:
- The property includes ownership of the rocky hillside and one- to two parking spots beyond the play area. This hillside likely causes moisture under the building in a dirt crawlspace.
- It is reported that at some time, work was done on the hill behind the building to improve drainage.
- There are several exterior stone staircases that appear to be in good condition. At least one needs repairs. Shoveling and salting the multiple stairs would be an expense to consider.
- There is an exterior play area. Recently, the School District installed required playground mulch.
- There are no areas needing mowing, just weeding and weed whacking.
- It is reported that the School District plowed the parking lot.
- It is reported that the School District had installed the last two fences and had paved the lot.
- There are two modern heat pumps at the back of the building with ducting through the attic. Their age and condition are unknown.
- Radiator heat is provided by an oil boiler in the basement. There is an exterior Roth double-walled oil tank. During power outages, it is reported that the building could be heated using a generator. It is reported that the district planned to upgrade to gas when this boiler expired.
- It is reported that at one time the building had hardwired smoke detectors, internet, cable, and an alarm system.
- It is reported that the plumbing was added to the building in 1954.
- The Fire inspection indicates that new exit signs and emergency lights must be installed.
- On the north side of the building, there is one set of double doors to the second floor. This is up many steps. A lift could possibly be installed there, but at great expense.
- All other exterior doorways are 36″ doorways but only a 30″ actual opening.
- There is a ramp to the second floor through a single doorway. This could possibly be modified for ADA compliance.
- The two large bathrooms seem like they could be made ADA compliant, with a thorough renovation.