An Important Town Hall Meeting Next Monday February 11th at 6.30PM at Community Baptist Church
I would like to invite you to a very important Town Hall Meeting that I will be hosting on the partnership that we have created with the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield involving youth recreational programs both during the school day, after 3 and weekends at the John T. Wright Ice Arena, MacKay Park and other City facilities, the Boys and Girls Club of Englewood.
This Town Meeting comes at an important time. The City Council in 2011 overwhelming voted to re-open the John T. Wright Ice Arena last year. I had deep concern that, should the Ice Arena re-open, it must provide substantial ice skating programs to our children and much more. My goal remains that the Arena cannot be about “Ice in Isolation” but must be a year round facility offering a variety of recreational programs for our children.
After close to two years of work, on October 1st of last year a partnership was created with the Boys and Girls Club of Garfield that would create the Boys and Girls Club of Englewood (the program name having been approved by the Boys and Girls Club of America) with a full set of school day and after 3 programs for our City’s Youth. Together with a leadership grant from Benzel- Busch Motor Car Corp., which enabled the Laureus Foundation and Coaches Across America to join the partnership and with participation by the School District, these programs will be historic in scope.
The larger vision is to create a public – non-profit – philanthropic partnership between the City, the Boys and Girls Club and other non-profits, and private individual donors. This Public/Private partnership would allow the programs to be robust and run indefinitely, benefiting our children for years to come. This is the same model that I used successfully when reinventing the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC) as one of the leading performing arts and educational centers in the State. It is also important to highlight that 100% of profits made by the Boys and Girls Club will go directly to Englewood youth programs.
That vision and the programs it would bring are in jeopardy at present due to lack of full Council support of the agreement with the Boys and Girls Club that the Council previously voted on. With decades of neglect at the John T. Wright Ice Arena combined with the effects of Superstorm Sandy, the Ice Arena requires a commitment by the City. The recently introduced Bond Ordinance is that commitment, but the real issue here is not about the capital improvements it’s about the opportunity for our children.
I asked the Council and it voted to introduce the Bond Ordinance to promote an unfiltered, full and open public discussion on this Ordinance and allow each resident the opportunity to fully participate, weigh in and share their opinions on these important decisions before the Council votes upon it later this month.
The total cost of the capital improvements would be substantially covered by insurance proceeds and the rental income on the property, with little annual cost to the taxpayer. Should the Council vote to replace the roof only this month or if it refused to make the necessary improvements to assure the facility is safe, the Boys and Girls Club year round programs will be lost and the facility will continue to be an eye sore in MacKay Park.
The John T. Wright Ice Arena is just one vehicle to deliver these programs and there is opportunity to expand them to other City facilities but this is the critical first step.
I would ask that you please attend and participate in this important meeting and also make you fellow residents aware of it as well, particularly grandparents, parents and school age children. Please ask them to join us and let their voices be heard!
The meeting will be held on Monday, February 11th at 6.30 PM at Community Baptist Church. I have posted an invitation right below this post for your convenience. Please forward it via email or distribute it in any way you wish.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
Mayor Frank Huttle