State laws on the layout of preschool facilities are one of the major factors preventing Brick Township officials from considering a move of the township’s senior center to a new facility at Civic Plaza.
The township owns outright the former strip mall on Chambers Bridge Road, which is home to the recreation department, its growing preschool program, the Chamber of Commerce headquarters and space for other township organizations. The senior center is currently located at the VFW hall on Adamston Road, with some in the senior citizen community arguing that they should have a larger space to hold more functions.
“It seems to be a waste of space,” resident Richard Gross said of Civic Plaza at a recent township council meeting. “If we could use that space for other activities within the town, I think it would be more profitable for us.”
The preschool program is one of the primary reasons the senior programs would not be able to be housed at the complex, officials said.
“With recreation growing the way that it’s growing, we have a state-approved preschool at the site, and that has rules on comingling people and groups,” said Joanne Bergin, the township’s business administrator. “There are a lot of dynamics that occur with operating a preschool.”
In the past, township officials have said because Civic Plaza lacks a commercial kitchen, it is unsuitable to be run as a senior center. The VFW facility is used to serve meals and acts as a county nutrition site for seniors in need.
Revenue from the preschool program is continuing to grow, Bergin said, and the township is doing all it can to strengthen the program and maintain its qualifications. As a whole, she said, new opportunities are being sought for the site, including the potential to lease more space there.
“Another possible use that we are looking into for the coming year is, perhaps, a teen center at that site,” Bergin said.
As for the senior center: “We’re exploring every option that we might have,” said Bergin.