During a meeting of the Belleville Township Council Tuesday a council member confirmed that the construction of the Friendly House recreation center is nearing completion.
Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke was the driving force behind the use of a $469,000 Community Development Block Grant to rebuild a scaled-down version of the old two-story recreation building on Florence Street in the township's Silver Lake district.
Burke said in a separate interview that she is "very happy with the progress" at the site in her fourth ward, but stressed again that the facility if for the entire town to use.
The building is getting closer to final completion, Burke said.
Right now, air conditioning/heat duct work is being put into the interior of the building, she said, while the framing wood is being put up for the bathrooms.
PSE&G installed the telephone pole to carry electricity to the building, while gas mains remain to be installed underground. Beyond that, workers will put in the outer doors and a garage door, Burke confirmed.
"It has been a long time coming, and I am happy and thankful to my fellow council members for their support," Burke said.
She said previously that the new building with two different colors of gray bricks, and had the windows put in recently.
The building was put up sideways on the property, to fit as much parking as possible, and so that people can enter off the main street on Florence Street, Burke said.
The new building is expected to house expanded 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 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 had to be spent or county officials may have pulled 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.