With the 99 percent finished, staff there are asking for the township’s help to make further structural improvements to the historic buildings.
Executive director Alan Willoughby told township council about a number of improvements and upgrades needed at the 102-year-old Tudor Revival home and adjacent carriage house—both of which are on the state and national registry of historic buildings—including new roofs, more handicap accessibility, electrical rewiring, new lighting and repaving of the parking lot, among other things.
Willoughby said these improvements are “both necessary and critical to ensure the continued health and viability of the structures … and to ensure and enhance the historic integrity of this very special Moorestown asset.”
Key to getting these renovations off the ground, he said, is the creation of a preservation plan for the . To do that, Willoughby wants to hire a preservation specialist through the New Jersey Historic Trust.
“By developing that plan, that will allow us to go back to the Historic Trust with a much stronger case for the larger scale renovations that we feel are required,” said treasurer Paul .
Hiring the specialist and getting the preservation plan done costs money, of course, which is where the township comes in.
Willoughby said he’s in the process of applying for a Historic Site Management Grant, which provides a 3-to-1 matching grant, meaning for every $1 Perkins puts in, the state provides $3. It would be great, he said, if Perkins could get some, or all, of the match from the township.
Buttressing Perkins’ appeal is the fact that the township owns the property. The arts center, which is in the 13th year of a 25-year lease, pays the township $1 annually for the property.
Willoughby said he’s applying for a $45,000 grant, so a $15,000 contribution from the township—possibly from the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund—would cover the match.
Township manager Scott Carew was enthusiastic about the notion of the township providing some support for the project, saying, “Spending a little to get this done could result in hundreds of thousands in available grants.”
If Perkins had the match in hand by the time the application was submitted, it’d be that much more likely to receive the grant, according to Willoughby.
Though council was noncommittal Monday night, a few members expressed interest in supporting Perkins, including Mayor John Button and Councilman Chris Chiacchio.
“It’s township property,” said Chiacchio. “We have a responsibility to maintain it.”
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