BRICK – The township is seeking a $400,000 grant for costs related to the construction of a new Senior Center in a building that formerly housed the Brick Volunteer Emergency Medical Services on Aurora Place.
With an anticipated price tag of about $1 million for the center, the grant is being sought from The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, which would be added to $600,000 already set aside in the township’s capital budget.
According to Director of Senior Services Zulma Soto, the proposed design for the reconfigured building incorporates a multi-purpose room, which would house all the social activities, recreational events and classes.
“It will also have a large kitchen area which will also double as a small meeting area; a conference room, which will provide an area for the staff and seniors to meet and hold our outreach services; and we’ll also have an opportunity to have a designated library area and a computer area for the seniors,” she said.
The EMS would continue to run their services out of the three existing ambulance bays, Soto added.
Recreational, social services and events are currently being run out of the VFW Post 8868 at 373 Adamston Drive, for which the township pays $41,000 annually.
However, due to COVID restrictions during the public health crisis, outreach services have been temporarily moved to the Civic Plaza on Chambersbridge Road in order to maintain adequate social distancing, Soto said.
The staff was able to set up temporary office space at the VFW to conduct outreach services, but they had to break the space down every week when the VFW opened up to its members, she said.
There is enough space at the Civic Plaza for the outreach staff to conduct one-on-one meetings with seniors who need help in filling out applications for various services, including Meals on Wheels, home care services, Medicare counseling, and others, she said.
“It was much more comfortable to be able to have the Civic Plaza space that is more easily accessible to seniors, and it’s easier for them to get to that location,” Soto said. “It’s working out super well.”
Some of the classes and programs being offered at the rented VFW space include Stretch and Stronger, aerobics, Zumba, yoga, tai chi, arts and crafts, a multicultural group, a writing club and a book club.
“All of those will still be conducted in the new facility,” Soto said.
In 2021, the Senior Center served over 2,000 seniors, she added.
“We’re excited about the new center,” Soto said. “I know the seniors are excited. Myself as the director, I’m super excited because I know we could really implement additional things that we weren’t able to, and add things permanently there, like the library area and the computer area, which we were not able to do at the VFW because it is a shared space.”
Township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin said the new location gives the seniors a place to call home.
“As a tenant at the VFW, we appreciate the partnership and generosity of the VFW over the years,” she wrote in an email.
“Our own space gives us the ability to make it a long-term permanent use,” Bergin said. “Sharing space worked, but a place that is designated just for Brick seniors was a goal we had for a long time.”
Bergin said the administration hopes to get the space refurbished this year.