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Burke Updates Friendly Recreation Building Progress

Belleville's First Ward Councilwoman says new gray brick building has recently had windows installed and landscaping should come next as facility moves will open in 2013.

A question from an audience member at Tuesday night's Belleville Council meeting led to Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke updating the progress of rebuilding the Friendly House recreation facility.

The facility is being built using a Community Development Block Grant.

Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke pushed for the council to use $469,000 in CDBG money to rebuild a scaled-down version of the old two-story recreation building.

Burke said the new building with two different colors of gray bricks, had the windows put in recently.

"The building was put up sideways on the property, for two reasons," Burke said. "We wanted to fit as much parking as possible, and we want kids to be able enter off the main street on Florence Street."

The new building is planned to expand day care services and senior citizen exercise programs for all residents, Burke said.

The council agreed to shift money around so that the building can have an air conditioning system, according to Burke, “to take care of children and help our senior citizens.

The council voted in July to award a contract for reconstruction of the Friendly House to Stonebridge LLC of Watchung, which submitted the low bid of $589,000 on April 20, according to the resolution. The money must begin to be spent or county officials may pull the grant, Burke said.

The new Friendly House is planned to provide morning and afternoon day care sessions, senior citizen aerobics and include a community room for all Belleville residents. The day care programs would be an expansion of similar programs at the Belleville Recreation House on Joralemon Street, Burke said.

Burke said she agrees with resident and former town commissioner Vincent Frantantoni, who both wanted the existing building repaired.

After Frantantoni brought that up Tuesday night, Burke said in an interview she wanted to update the public on the building's progress. 

Chooch January 10, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Please offer more exercise programs such as zumba & yoga like Nutley does.
watchamean January 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM
It's time to bring back the Commissioner form of government.

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