Friday, September 29, 2023

Wildwood Bonds $3.5M to Erect ‘First Class’ Community Center 5.24.2006

By Rick Racela

WILDWOOD – The city approved a bond ordinance at a special meeting on May 16 that would provide as much as $3.5 million toward construction of a new community center. Mayor Ernie Troiano said that he envisioned the center would be “first class” and provide programs for adults, seniors, as well as children. Troiano said that the building’s design is still being “changed around” to meet both the city needs and budget requirements. Originally estimated to be about $1.7 million in 2003, project costs rose dramatically, nearly three times that estimate, due in part to the increased cost of building materials.   “Metal costs went through the roof,” said Troiano.  After receiving the $1 million grant from the Byrne Fund, Troiano explained that the next step would be to get redesigned plans and to place the project up for bid.    “The whole configuration, especially the foundation, is being redone,” he added.  Resident Tony Totah voiced his concern over the city’s plan to spend for the community center. “Wildwood should be looking into how we can share resources and services with our neighboring communities to reduce the redundancies on this island and save taxpayers money,” he wrote in a letter to the mayor and commissioners. Totah pointed to using North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest’s recreation centers as possible solutions.  Troiano responded that he did not want children from Wildwood walking to North Wildwood or Wildwood Crest to attend recreation programs.  “Those centers are reaching capacity with their own children,” Troiano added.  Buddy Tarbotton, supervisor of the North Wildwood recreation department, said the city’s center does all it can to incorporate as many children as possible, but is “busting at the seams.”   He cited the state certified after school program that is already “quite full” with 80 to 120 children at any given day, plus the evening programs that attract a large crowd of older students.   Staff, he noted, is also an issue. The center provides one staff member for every 15 students during the after-school program.  “We just won’t have the resources,” Tarbotton said of taking on more children.  “Wildwood definitely needs to build a recreation center to provide for its own community,” he said. “And not just the kids, the seniors as well.”  Currently the structure is planned to sit between the baseball and football fields at Maxwell Field. The city sold the recreation center on Rio Grande Avenue, but still continues to operate under a lease agreement until the new center can be built.  Contact Huggins at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or  

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