"We tried to do a variety of things with this building, but nothing caught fire because of the building itself," Pugliese said.
The locker room, believed to have been built during the 1930s, was used as a changing room until the county closed the adjacent swimming pool in the early 1970s. After the county closed the pool, it leased the locker room to Audubon, which used the building for various purposes, including a teen center. Most recently it has been used for storage and sometimes as a polling place. What was once the pool is now a roller hockey rink.
"It's a building that has long passed its usefulness," Pugliese said. "Trust me, you won't want to go inside because it is so dank and musty."
Last month the county said it would sell the building for $1 to the borough of Audubon, which will raze it and build a two-story community center with a deck on the site. Construction is to start in the spring, with completion a year later.
"This was the idea of the residents of Audubon," said Ken Shuttleworth, the county director of public affairs. "It was in everyone's best interests to give away something that was not being used effectively."
The construction of a community center, which will cost between $1.8 million and $2 million, was the idea of Borough Commissioners Bob Howard and Chris Tassi, who worked out the deal with the county.
"This is all part of efforts to improve the quality of life in Audubon," Howard said of the proposed building, which would be financed from bonds issued through the Camden County Improvement Authority. "The old Town Hall can be used for some functions, but its use is limited."
In the 1930s at the height of the Depression, the Works Progress Administration put millions of unemployed people to work building roads, bridges, buildings and airport runways.
One of the more than 125,000 buildings that WPA workers built was believed to have been the locker room and swimming pool in Audubon, Shuttleworth said.
The proposed center is an integral part of efforts to improve Audubon, Pugliese said, referring to the refurbishing of Merchant Street, a commercial thoroughfare in the 1.2-square-mile community of more than 9,200, and the rejuvenation of the old Black Horse Pike shopping center, now known as Audubon Crossing and Audubon Commons. The center, which was built in 1961, will include a Wal-Mart, an Acme, a Staples, a Pep Boys, an Eckerd drugstore, and restaurants.
"On July 2, we had a battle of the bands contest," Pugliese said. "Just think what such an event would be like with the bands playing on the deck of the community center. . . . I can hardly wait."
Contact suburban staff writer Louise Harbach at 856-779-3861 or email@example.com.