STAFFORD – Township officials cut the ribbon on the newly restored Pine Street Recreation Building located at 25 Pine Street. This community center has been fully renovated and will supplement the Bay Avenue Community Center, located right next door off of East Bay Avenue.
The community center consists of three meeting rooms, designed to be smaller and more private than the ones provided by the Bay Ave Community Center, according to Recreation Director Betti Anne McVey.
“The new construction creates a much more comfortable and private environment for groups that were forced to move their activities to other buildings during the renovation period and it will welcome several new groups and activities as well,” township officials stated.
There is a centrally located kitchen, a recreation office, two new bathroom facilities, a community room, and a meeting room to be utilized by the local chapter of the Soroptimist International group. Renovations also included the addition of modern heating and cooling, porches and ramps, and landscaping.
“They [Soroptimist International] have a program called Dress for Success, where people who are joining the workforce…can come and get an outfit,” said McVey.
Soroptimist International is a “global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls” through empowerment and education opportunities, according to their website.
The Dress for Success program will provide those in need in the local community with a place to come to get everyday work clothes. They have coined the room “Soroptimist’s Closet.”
McVey also noted that the new space will be very beneficial for the various senior groups, classes, and organizations that need a place to convene.
“It’s a more intimate space, we have AA meetings,” said McVey, explaining that the more intimate space is better suited to the privacy of those groups.
However, the larger space provided by the Bay Avenue center is still required for events and larger group meetings.
Reconstruction only took approximately 4-5 months, according to township administrator Jim Moran. The project ran the township $147,000, all of which was covered by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“We did pay money to buy the building back from the school,” said Moran. “We had sold it to the school for $225,000; we bought it back from the school for $225,000.”
The FEMA grant was able to fund this project through $147,000 of grant money associated with a water main project on Mill Creek Road. The township requested that FEMA reallocate the funds to support the community center project, which they did.
While many residents have expressed concerns over not having a community center rebuilt in the Beach Haven West section of town, there was still a great turnout to the grand opening of the new building.
“The coordination of getting everything together, all in one spot, it’s a design that absolutely meets the needs of the public,” said Mayor John Spodofora.
The work on the restoration was performed in-house by Stafford’s Department of Public Works, which Spodofora noted saved the taxpayers money.