With assurances from Galloway Township Manager Arch Liston that the transition would come at a minimal cost to the taxpayers, township council unanimously approved a resolution to allow the Galloway Township Historical Society to move into the building formerly occupied by the post office on Tuesday night, Jan. 22.
The discussion began when Galloway Councilman Jim McElwee asked about the possibility of renting the building out to a paying tenant.
“We would have to fix the building up, but I could put an RFP out for the location to be utilized by a private entity if that’s what council wishes,” Liston said.
The historical society won’t pay rent. Since it is a department in Galloway Township government, the township is responsible for their budget.
However, since the society will be using the building only for meetings once a month and an open house once a month, the building will hardly be used.
“The heat will barely be on most of the time,” Liston said. “I’ll make sure it’s at 55 most of the time.”
“They’re only using part of the building,” Mayor Don Purdy said. “GTV is still going to be in that building. The building is just sitting there. We regret that we can’t have the post office still there, but it’s not and I think it’s important to have history on display.”
Purdy also didn’t feel it was appropriate for a business to move into the municipal complex, especially with empty buildings available for businesses elsewhere in the township.
“The building has historical value to it, and if it needs to be changed in the future, it’s in the possession of Galloway Township,” Purdy said.
McElwee and fellow Democratic Councilman Jim Gorman said they were unaware of the Historical Society’s proposed use of the building until it had already been decided there would be a resolution on Tuesday night’s agenda. Purdy said he first learned of the plan on Thursday, prior to a meeting with Liston on the subject.
McElwee asked if the idea originated in the budget committee, but Liston explained the Historical Society inquired about the building once its members learned the post office would be closing. The post office closed as of Jan. 1.
According to Liston, profits from the post office were down half a percent in 2012 from the previous year. The post office was generating $54,000 and expenses are $80,000, according to Liston.
The post office was in that location since 2002, shortly after the 08205 ZIP code was established. The presence of that post office allowed the ZIP code’s creation, and the township has been able to keep it. The drop boxes outside the post office also remain.
The Galloway Historical Society has met in the Elaine Conover Abrahamson Historical Room at the Galloway Municipal Complex, 300 East Jimmie Leeds Road since its inception. It’s held Open Houses in that building each of the last two months. The next Open House is scheduled for Feb. 9.
The society is looking to emulate the display area contained in the Absecon Museum, located at Howlett Hall, a former bank that became a hardware store, and evolved into an unheated storage space.
Galloway Historical Society President Robert Reid is also associated with the Absecon Historical Society. It was his work with that group that has instilled confidence into members of council.
Despite raising questions, McElwee and Gorman both emphasized their support for the Historical Society. The resolution passed, 6-0. Councilman Tom Bassford was absent.