It's almost 45 days since Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. signed an order giving the owner of the Beachwood Shopping Center a deadline to demolish the rotting eyesore on Route 9 South.
But there have been no signs of the massive preparation work that must be done before the buildings come down, Amato said after the Aug. 26 Township Council meeting.
"We will be in court on the 46th day," he said.
Resident Maureen Hall is running out of patience. She said during the public portion of the meeting that there is no evidence at the site that work will begin within a few days.
"I wonder how aggressive our town is," Hall said.
"Real aggressive," "Amato replied. "The town did absolutely nothing for 25 years until I became mayor."
"It's the closest its ever been," Township Council President James J. Byrnes said.
Fire Official Jack Wiegartner ordered owner Priscilla Oughton to take a number of corrective actions after a dangerous fire at the height of Superstorm Sandy They including vacating the shopping center, removing the structures, demolishing the structures and removing all debris.
Eight fire code violations found
Lawyers for Oughton - the daughter of the late James E. Johnson, who built the plaza decades ago - asked for time to examine the property. They later said that much of the condition of the shopping center was due to the storm, which many in town found laughable.
The dilapidated site has been a headache for more than one township administration over the years. Berkeley received state Planning Commission approval for its Town Center redevelopment plan in July 2012.
But the site is rife with environmental problems. That's the primary reason former redeveloper of record Donato Donofrio backed out last year.
"The site is full of asbestos," Amato said. "The asbestos has to be remediated. The metal has to be recycled."
The township could not front the cost of demolition, Township Attorney Lauren R. Staiger said.
If the township condemned the property, Berkeley would become the unwilling owner of the buildings and site.
"We don't want to own it," Byrnes said.
"The last thing we want is to condemn it," Amato said.