Building Next to Stafford’s Community Center to Get Remodeled for Small Group Activities

Sep 20, 2017
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The little building at 25 Pine St. that sits adjacent/behind the new Bay Avenue Community Center in Manahawkin will get a makeover to the tune of $150,000, thanks to Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funding being applied to the project from Superstorm Sandy.

Stafford Township mayor and council adopted a bond ordinance to that end at the regular meeting of Sept. 12.

“This is the grant we received, so this isn’t really Stafford money,” Mayor John Spodofora explained.

The town will be reimbursed $147,000 and the extra $3,000 being borrowed for incidental fees not included in the application, Administrator James Moran explained.

Weaver Drive resident Jeanine Sciglitano wanted to know how much if any of the renovation work would be done by township employees. Moran said the majority of the work will, as is the town’s habit.

Officials announced in March 2016 the town would spend $236,250 to purchase the building, which they promised would be an invaluable asset to the Recreation Department as an ancillary space to meet the demand for dozens of small activities and groups, ranging from mah jongg to Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as a permanent home for the Dress for Success program.

Senior citizens are the fastest-growing segment of the town’s population, and older folks need things to do, according to Recreation Department Director Betti Anne McVey, who had spoken in support of the purchase. In the five years since Superstorm Sandy, programs have changed and expanded to include more small-group activities (knitting, instruments, cards). Meanwhile, the large space inside the Bay Avenue building is needed for large-scale events. The proximity of the two buildings is advantageous, in part because of a shared parking lot.

Later during the public comment portion of the meeting, Larry Oliphant of Parker Street, whose lineage in Stafford Township goes back hundreds of years, spoke up about an environmental matter. He lives next door to a parcel of land he referred to as an “abandoned oil yard,” where remediation work is being done under the auspices of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“People used to put oil down to keep dust down,” Oliphant explained. The practice was quite well known, and it was done for a practical purpose, without harmful intent, he said.

He said he has knowledge of specific locations where toxic and hazardous materials are buried on the property, and while he doesn’t want to cause any embarrassment to the town, he does want to make sure the information is conveyed to the contractors working on the site so they can dig up and remove the hazards.

He also provided to officials a letter from 1986 proving his aunt had received money from the property owner to pay for her water hookup because of the pollution problem. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, he said, his aunt would complain about the neighbors “shaking her house.”

“If I give you a tax map, could you give me approximate locations of where you think stuff is buried?” Moran asked Oliphant.

“Within feet,” he said.

Moran said he would notify the DEP, the agency responsible for the remediation.

“We’ve had some issues in that general vicinity in the past,” Moran said.

— Victoria Ford

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