Stafford Township officials unveiled plans to construct not one, but
two new community centers in town: one in place of the Mill Creek
Community Center in Beach Haven West, which was heavily damaged in
Superstorm Sandy, and one behind the former town hall, now the East Bay
Avenue Community Center, which will be demolished when the new building
The announcement came at the regular council meeting of Feb. 18.
Mayor John Spodofora said the plans had come through several
incarnations, and by the third or fourth version the council had reached
a comfortable place with it.
Stafford’s architect, Vince Sibona, and Township Engineer John Hess
presented the plans. The two buildings are similar in exterior
appearance, for continuity.
The new Mill Creek Community Center will be a 5,000-square-foot,
pre-engineered metal building, Sibona explained. Inside, meeting rooms
can be subdivided (and can accommodate up to 300 occupants), and
additional support spaces include a kitchen, club storage space, other
storage, barrier-free restrooms, basic office area as a control point,
general office space and a conference room.
Outside, a low wall will disguise some of the pre-fab building, as a cost-effective way to “dress up” the building, he said.
The pavilion, on East Bay Avenue, is a smaller-scale version of the
same building, 1,600 square feet, with a large multipurpose room,
kitchen area and serving counter to the outside, a restroom, storage,
and a covered entrance.
In working out the design, Spodofora said, storage and access were
key factors, as well as accommodations for emergency management and
Councilman Henry Mancini said he feels the final plans are efficient, while meeting the community’s needs.
“Everyone had a voice, everyone had an opinion, and collectively
that’s when the best creations are developed,” Sibona said of the design
Spodofora hopes the new pavilion will draw more people into and
through the downtown area. In general the council is excited about the
number of possible ways these centers will be assets to the community.
To the question of money, Township Administrator James Moran said the
total cost of the project, before reimbursement, was about $2 million.
The town is still waiting for FEMA and insurance payouts, he added. The
project calls for groundwater source heat pumps, the most efficient
heating system available, he said, with incentive from the state Board
of Public Utilities; POS water heaters; LED lighting throughout;
lighting control systems and energy recovery systems; plus insulation
and other passive means of efficiency. Should the money become
available, the building would lend itself to putting solar panels on the
roof, he added. Additional grants are being sought for energy-efficient
Given the soil conditions, the Mill Creek building will need to go on
a support structure. Engineers are factoring that into their estimates,
Hess said ramps will provide access to the pavilion, with the ground
beneath it raised and tapered out along a gradual slope. A geo-tech crew
will do soil borings to determine the exact bearing capacity for the
The next step in what Moran called an “aggressive” construction
schedule is to adopt the bond ordinances in March, then wait for
authorization for funding, then put the project out to bid by mid to
late April, wait the six-week bidding period, and then, assuming numbers
come in well, award the bid and proceed to construction. Completion is
expected by next spring, at the latest.
Moran said the metal buildings are cost-effective, but the problem is
they’re custom ordered, made in a factory and dependent on the
availability of steel, so the factory assembly takes much longer than
putting the structure up.
Courtesy of— Victoria Ford