Community center gets spiffed up after 54 years

Rentals will fund
upkeep of building

Staff Writer

Rentals will fund
upkeep of building
Staff Writer

OCEANPORT — Most towns have one, but Oceanport’s Community Center has seen better days, according to Councilwoman Ellynn Kahle.

A renovation project that will restore the 54-year-old building on the corner of Iroquois and Port-au-Peck avenues began in May after the borough’s budget, which allotted $4,000 to repair the center, was adopted.

"It was in despair," Kahle said. "So, we allotted money in our capital budget for renovations."

The 320-square-foot building has acted as a center for the community since it was built in 1951, according to Kahle, who said nothing was done to maintain the upkeep of the structure over the years.

"It needs repairs," Mayor Maria Gatta said. "We have added the repairs into the confines of our budget."

Kahle said the building’s paint is cracking and chipped, the floor is rotted and falling apart, and the bathroom vanities are broken.

"We want a nice place for people to have their bridal and baby shower, hold meetings and have parties," Kahle said. "We want it durable for every occasion."

Under the allotted funds, Kahle said, the renovations that will be complete by the end of the year include: the interior of the building will be painted, the bathroom vanities will be replaced, new curtains will be hung, and a new lighting system will be installed.

"We are also hoping that community members will donate pictures to decorate the facility," Kahle said.

She said she had originally hoped to include a floor replacement in this year’s renovations, but funds will not be available this year for that project.

"There are two layers of vinyl flooring that would have to be replaced," Kahle said. "We are looking into bids, but it will have to be included in next year’s budget."

She said painting the outside of the building will also be included in next year’s renovations.

Kahle said she is working with limited funding this year, but most of the work is being done by volunteers or in-house by the Public Works Department. Many people have also offered donations, she said.

"Councilman Michael Mahon got the paint from a state contract for cheaper than you would get it if you went out to buy it at a store," Kahle said. "Our public works department painted it."

Oceanport resident Karen Judkis donated curtains for the building, and the bathroom vanities were donated by a resident who prefers to remain anonymous.

"The curtains were going to cost $700 and we only had to pay $41 for the material," Kahle said. "We are doing whatever we can to save money."

The lighting system is expected to cost approximately $1,500, according to Kahle. She said she wants the center to be attractive because "the more we rent the center out, the more money we can make on it."

The money that is paid to rent out the center will now go into an account that will be dedicated to maintaining the building, Kahle said. The money originally was going directly into the borough budget.

"It is a small community center compared to other towns, but down the road it would be wonderful if we could build a new building," Kahle said. "Maybe in the future we could have a center with an indoor basketball court."