CARTERET — Mayor Dan Reiman was joined last week by Councilman Jorge Diaz and Middlesex County Freeholder Ron Rios to announce that the borough will receive a $500,000 Middlesex County Community Development funding allocation towards construction of the town’s state-of-the-art “Health and Wellness Center.”
The project, currently under construction, will establish an approximately 40,000 sq. ft. Health & Wellness Center.
To date, approximately $12.5 million has been raised for the center through various grants, private endowments, and developer impact fees. Additional funding is being actively sought from regional businesses and private donors, according to Reiman. Total construction for the facility has been estimated at $14 million, which the mayor and redevelopment agency expect to have earmarked by its completion.
The structure will be located at the heart of what has evolved into the “civic center” of Carteret.
Beyond its direct benefit to the community, the project is expected to provide new impetus to the Washington Avenue Mixed-Use Redevelopment District, which lies within Carteret’s Urban Enterprise Zone. With the increase in local and visiting consumer traffic the facility will create, the Carteret Health and Wellness Center will serve as an economic catalyst for new and existing UEZ businesses along the Washington Avenue thoroughfare. The attraction of local and regional members will stimulate and expand Washington Avenue’s existing customer base, while pedestrian traffic will support both commerce and employment.
“The immediate value of this project to the community is clear,” Diaz added, “but it will also have an enormous impact on our business community, drawing attention to our multi-faceted Civic Center Sports Complex and the Washington Avenue Redevelopment Zone. This is one of many projects that will play an influential part in redefining our town.”
The Wellness Center first received recognition from Middlesex County in 2007, which provided $3 million in Open Space funding towards the center’s junior Olympic sized swimming pool to be housed in a 7,000 square foot aquatics center. The pool along with the facility’s many other amenities will be tailored to meet a wide variety of health, fitness, and recreational needs, according to Borough officials, and will allow for programs that will benefit different age groups.
Additional features include cardiovascular and weight rooms, aerobics studios, a multi-purpose sports room, physical therapy facilities, a daycare center, and a health food café.
In 2008 the Borough announced that the facility’s construction and operation would emphasize environmentally-friendly standards and technology, foremost being its innovative HVAC system, which will heat the building by recycling heated water from the facility’s indoor swimming pool. This and other “green” innovations will significantly conserve both energy and water throughout the year.
The federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1209 general units of local government and States. Carteret participates in the Middlesex County Consortium along with 14 other towns in the county.
The $500,000 grant is a Middlesex County “pass-through” from the Federal Community Development Block Grant Program. In the unlikely event that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development terminates the program prior to 2015, the Health and Wellness Center would owe the remaining balance. The zero-interest loan is forgivable at a prorated 20% a year.
Construction of the Carteret Health and Wellness Center began in April 2009, with completion projected for early 2011.
“The value of this project cannot be understated,” Reiman said. “While we recognize its innate importance to a town that is increasingly active and health conscious, its impact on our business community promises to be substantial. We’re especially grateful to our representatives on the Middlesex County Freeholder Board who have supported this project since its inception. The addition of this $500,000 now brings us to $13 million, or 93% funded for this ongoing project.”
“It always gives me a pleasure to see union construction jobs created,” Rios added, “and the long-term jobs that will be established at the facility itself and in the surrounding business community. I’m happy that my colleagues on the Freeholder Board have seen the range of benefits this project will have both on Carteret and the region.”
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