With a newly-built Secaucus Recreation Center up and running on Koelle Blvd., town officials must now decide what to do with the old recreation complex near the Plaza.
Located at 145 Front St., the old building still houses part of the town’s Aftercare Program, an after-school childcare option for working families. According to Recreation Director John Voli, most children attend the program at the Clarendon and Huber Street schools, but to keep those locations from getting overcrowded, approximately 40 students are placed at the 145 Front St. facility instead.
“We are facing having to make a large investment into the air conditioning and heating system on the roof. We have to see whether that’s a worthwhile investment.” – Dennis Elwell
“We are facing having to make a large investment into the air conditioning and heating system on the roof,” said Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell at the March 10 Town Council meeting. “We have to see whether that’s a worthwhile investment for us to make.”
Town Administrator David Drumeler believes one estimate for the repair came in at $60,000, although he said that figure may not be a hard estimate. The heating and air conditioning system still works, according to Drumeler, but “it’s at the end of its life.”
“We need to figure out what would be best for the town,” Drumeler said last week. “Should we keep the building, sell it? Do we fix it or repurpose the building? Those are our options. We haven’t had a lot of discussions about what we’re going to do yet. I expect the mayor and council will probably start discussing our options later this year, after we pass our municipal budget.”
The town’s 2009 budget will likely be passed in late spring or early summer.
Drumeler added that the town will have to study its options and explore how else the building or the land might be used.
Options on the table
For years, local merchants in the Plaza area have complained that Secaucus offers too little parking downtown for their customers. Drumeler suspects that parking may be one of the options the business community will push for when the town begins to assess the land at 145 Front St.
Meanwhile, some residents have said the facility should remain a recreational space for teens, especially those whose families have not joined the new Secaucus Recreation Center. The $12 million facility opened in December and held a “grand opening” last month. Although student athletes from the local public school system use the new recreation center for team sports, teens must be members of the facility in order to use it during weekends and non-school hours.
Residents who live near the 145 Front St. facility may identify other needs and uses for the space.
“Once we start discussing our options, I expect we’ll have a healthy dialog with residents and merchants to see what their needs are and get suggestions from them,” Drumeler said.
The mayor has bristled at rumors that the Front Street center has been abandoned, since it houses part of the Aftercare Program.
A third recreation building, at the corner of Humboldt Street and Centre Avenue, is still fully operational and hosts a variety of youth team sports, including Little League softball and baseball, batting cages, basketball, and wrestling, among other programs.
Reach E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.