Mayor Announces UEZ Funding Award For Carteret Health & Wellness Center

CARTERET—Mayor Daniel Reiman and the Borough Council announced last week that the Carteret Health & Wellness Center was awarded a $500,000 UEZ funding grant at the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority’s at Dec. 10 meeting. 

The UEZ Funding will be used for site improvement costs, including demotion of existing structures, and environmental preparation of the site of construction.  To date, approximately $10 million has been raised for the state-of the-art health and fitness facility through state and county grants, private endowments, and redevelopment fees generated by local business and litigation settlements.

A junior Olympic-sized swimming pool will be housed in the facility’s 7,000 square foot aquatics center.  The pool, along with the Health and Wellness Center’s many other amenities, will be tailored to meet a wide variety of health and recreational needs, and will allow for programs that will benefit different age groups.

The UEZ funding award will complement existing financial resources for construction of the project, borough officials said.  Total cost for the facility has been estimated at $14 million, which the Mayor and Redevelopment Agency expect to have earmarked by the project’s completion in 2010.

Carteret is one of 37 UEZ-designated communities in New Jersey.  Since 1996, Carteret has collected in excess of $5.2 million in UEZ sales tax revenues that are dedicated for UEZ projects.  Since the UEZ designation, over 11 projects have been funded through the program, including Washington/Roosevelt Avenue streetscape improvements, a state-of-the-art computer lab, a range of small business startup programs, and Washington Avenue facade improvements.  Carteret will be developing additional projects for consideration by the NJ Urban Enterprise Zone Authority.

“We expect it to be close to fully funded through public and private endowments by completion, at minimal or no cost to our taxpayers,” Reiman said. “The value of this project to the community and the region is immense, both in terms of its immediate value to residents, and regarding the inevitable impact it will have on area businesses.”

Reiman has emphasized that the Health and Wellness Center will eventually contribute to the economic vitality of the Cooke and Washington Avenue redevelopment areas, which lie adjacent to the project area, and will provide union construction employment, and new small business opportunities within the facility itself.

The facility will ultimately be sub-leased to private medical and health-related professionals, and house a café.  With a health conscious population along with the baby-boomer population, health and wellness activities represent a sizable market that are expected to attract new investments in Carteret, officials said.

“The project will be a boost for the surrounding small businesses in the UEZ Area, stimulating and expanding the customer base, and adding pedestrian walking traffic” Kathleen Shaw, UEZ Director  said. “These added activities will support small UEZ business employment obligations to maintain UEZ certification in the program.”

 “We have already seen an exceptional interest in managing the facility from YMCA’s and Hospital foundations to the Jewish Renaissance Foundation; all are extremely well qualified. We will soon begin the process of selecting the operator and negotiating the management contract” said Reiman.

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