To The Editor:
I thought it might be a good time to update the community on the progress that’s been made toward a goal the community has had for nearly a decade – the creation of a new Senior and Community Center. Many people have spent countless hours researching, talking about and planning for a new center, only to be disappointed when the building did not materialize. This time, we are taking concrete steps to make certain that we get what the community wants – a place all the residents of Hopewell Valley can enjoy in pursuit of a healthier and more engaged life with their neighbors.
First, your Township Committee reserved capital funds in the budget last year to design the new center. There is consensus that this project is important and warrants funding.
Second, as a lead site, we have reserved seven acres of land along Washington Crossing Pennington Road in the Zaitz tract for the new Center. We envision the building, parking, and beautiful community gardens in this space.
Third, a survey of Valley residents was conducted last year which showed the strong support of the community for this type of project. Mercer County has funds (1.5 million dollars) that we will be able to use for the Senior Center portion of the facility and another set of funds (an additional 1.5 million dollars) for the active recreation portion. Administering the survey was the required step to unlocking the senior focused funds. We have completed that step and have the data to show our residents are enthusiastic about the need for a new facility.
Fourth, I have toured many different types of senior, community, and fitness facilities so we can learn about popular services, management issues, and operating models. We are building a base of information and understanding so that we can approach this intelligently and as fully informed as possible.
Fifth, we are currently talking with residents and Valley groups about their vision for the use of this facility. We need to understand what kinds of uses our residents envision so we can create a space that best serves the entire community. It is critically important that the Committee understands the needs of our residents and the many groups so the final building can accommodate them appropriately. If you or your group would like to be a part of the conversation, contact me at [email protected].
While we work toward this goal, we are also working closely with Pennington and Hopewell Boroughs as well as Mercer County to renovate the current center. The Center had been scheduled to close this past December, but we worked with our partners to ensure that it remained safe and operational until the new center is built. The parking lot was repaved and striped and the interior issues are being addressed this winter and spring. Our seniors will have a safe and comfortable facility to use while the new building is planned for and built.
Progress on this dreamed-for center has been slow and frustrating at times. I thought the community ought to know the concrete steps we are taking to move the project toward becoming reality, at long last.
Hopewell Township Committee