Two weeks after Brick officials voted to solicit bids to demolish the abandoned Herbertsville Deli property on Herbertsville Road, which has deteriorated into a significant safety hazard, a crew presumably hired by the owner arrived this week to tear it down themselves. But the effort did not last long.
Following a decision rendered by the township’s Property Maintenance Board recommending demolition, the township council last month voted unanimously to solicit bids for a construction company to do the work. The cost of the demolition would have been recorded as a lien on the property.
In New Jersey, construction projects contracted by municipal governments must comply with “prevailing wage” laws, essentially a mandate to pay workers an agreed-upon equivalent of unionized labor regardless of the firm completing the work. The prevailing wage mandate can significantly increase the cost of municipal construction work as opposed to the cost of a private party hiring a contractor to do the same. Therefore, it would have been financially advantageous for the owner of the building to hire a contractor themselves rather than having the lien placed on the property representing the higher rate – meaning it was no surprise that shortly after the council’s vote, a demolition permit was issued by the township at the request of the property owner.
The work began Wednesday, with portions of the rear of the building having been torn down. A slew of items from the interior of the building were removed, ranging from sinks, to countertops, to a large amount of general debris. But, according to township officials, state inspectors visited the site and issued a stop-work order since certain asbestos-related protocols were not being followed.
A call to the only phone number listed for the owner of the property went unanswered and unreturned. State offices were closed by the time the resoning behind the stop-work order came to light, and it was not clear when demolition would continue.
Shorebeat will report back when more information is available in what has become something of a continuing local saga centering around a deli that was once a beloved neighborhood gathering place.