By Chris Rotolo |SEA BRIGHT – A contract has been awarded for the construction of the long-awaited municipal complex.General contractor UniMak LLC of Saddle Brook came in with the lowest bid of nearly $7.1 million for the project, which the council accepted at its March 6 meeting.“This was a project long in the making and we are all extremely excited to know that Sea Bright will finally be getting the municipal complex,” Borough Council president Marc Leckstein said. “The construction will include a new firehouse and police station, which the community has long needed and deserves.”In September 2016, Sea Bright residents voting in a bond referendum approved borrowing up to $5.76 million to replace buildings damaged nearly four years earlier in Super Storm Sandy in a project projected to cost $12.7 million in total.One of them was a 14,187-square-foot municipal complex, which taxpayers, insurance proceeds and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would help fund, said Leckstein.This was the second time the complex was put out to bid. The Council had hoped to award the contract at a special meeting on Jan. 30, but all 14 bids were deemed too high and consequently denied. The lowest bidder in the initial round was Hassert Construction of Marlton, who came in at $7.6 million.According to Leckstein, construction on the building “will begin as soon as possible” in 2018. Borough officials are hoping to unveil the complex on Memorial Day 2019 and move workers into the new building the following month.The finished complex will be located in the municipal parking lot at the site of the former Sea Bright firehouse and police station.The first floor of the new municipal building will have six bays for fire rescue and first aid and one bay for equipment. The police department will have a secure entranceway, interview rooms, evidence and record storage, a holding cell, locker rooms and office space. Parking for cruisers and other police department vehicles will be provided to the east of the building.On the second floor will be borough administration, conference rooms and police and fire department storage space.The venture was recognized in December, as part of four major municipal projects that included the reconstruction of the sea wall, the construction of a new beach pavilion and borough library, and plans to erect an 80-foot cell tower.Borough officials, including Joe Verruni, the borough administrator, has billed the projects as the final pieces of Sea Bright’s rebuilding efforts following the devastation of Super Storm Sandy in 2012.But Leckstein has a longer view of Sea Bright’s recovery.“This municipal complex was something our community needed long before Sandy occurred,” Leckstein said. “And even with its completion, we are still not going to be fully recovered.”Leckstein stressed that Sea Bright’s complete recovery won’t take hold until the bulkheads located along the Navesink River are repaired.“We won’t be recovered from Sandy until the bulkheads are in place and the subsequent flooding has been brought under control. And this is a continuing project.”Leckstein was unable to put a timeline to the process, as the restoration “necessitates private landowners improving their own bulkheads.”This article was first published in the March 29-April 5, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.