A long-vacant former municipal complex at the site of what was a Cold War-era Nike missile base is to be dismantled to make way for a public safety center in Lumberton Township.
The base was one of a dozen constructed in the Philadelphia region in the '50s to defend the country against a possible Soviet bomb attack and was decommissioned in 1974.
Lumberton, then a mostly rural Burlington County community, renovated the Army base's two dormitories to house its municipal offices and police department. But in 2000, when a new municipal complex was built across the street, the facility fell vacant and became an eyesore, Township Administrator Brandon Umba said Thursday.
"The demolition marks the first chapter in laying that land down so that it can be used in the future for a new public safety building," he said.
The facility would be used by the town's fire department, Bureau of Fire Protection, EMS squad, and Office of Emergency Management.
RVT Construction of Passaic, N.J., was recently awarded a $293,000 contract to raze the buildings. Umba said the demolition should be completed by the end of October.
The township committee also hired Garrison Architects of Bellmawr to come up with a design.
Last week, officials met at the site on Municipal Drive to announce the demolition that will clear the way for a multiyear construction project.
"The next step for us is working closely with our first responders to develop plans for our new Public Safety Center," Committeeman Jim Conway said in a statement. "Our goal is to have a plan in place and shovels in the ground for this new building sometime in 2016."
Built in 1958, the Nike base in Lumberton was among five in South Jersey and seven in Pennsylvania that formed a ring around Philadelphia. Among them was one in Woolwich, Gloucester County, and another in Bristol, Bucks County.
Some were razed years ago so that houses could be built or athletic fields created. Others were turned into schools, or, like Lumberton, into government offices.