The Jewish Community Center in Margate is moving forward with plans to create an off-site branch for its Mainland members.
Jack Fox, chief executive officer of the JCC, said officials have been scouting out the Linwood County Club property on Shore Road as the secondary site location. The project would not interfere with the country club or golf course.
The JCC has hired an architect who created a preliminary drawling of the proposed $5 million, 20,000-square-foot off-site branch, which is planned to include an indoor pool and an outdoor swimming pool with a splash pad, lounge chairs and a snack bar, as well as a fitness facility and several meeting spaces.
They're currently negotiating with the owners of the country club and have plans to meet with Linwood city officials in the coming weeks, Fox said. The goal is to have a Mainland location set by the end of the summer.
The Margate-based JCC will not close, he said. The purpose of the Mainland branch is to expand and enhance its services.
Discussion for creating a secondary branch of the local JCC - formally the Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center of Atlantic and Cape May Counties - came up two years ago as a result of the organization's formal strategic study to identify its future needs.
What they learned, Fox said, is that its Mainland members wanted a closer facility, particularly in the summer months when the island is populated with tourists.
"If you live on the island, you don't want to travel to the Mainland, and if you live on the Mainland, you don't want to travel across the bridge to the island," he said.
The Milton & Betty Katz JCC celebrated its centennial in 2012. It was first opened in Atlantic City and moved to its present location on Jerome Avenue in Margate in 1959.
The 75,000-square-foot center is a recreational membership-based facility open to anyone, regardless of their residence or religious affiliation. However, the JCC does promote an appreciation of Jewish identity, values and culture.
The Margate JCC has an early childhood education program for infants through Kindergarten; Camp by the Sea, a summer camp that enrolls about 600 children each summer; a 10,000-square-foot fitness facility with group classes and personal training; an Olympic-size swimming pool; and an additional outdoor swimming pool.
The JCC also has a partnership with several local businesses and organizations including Shore Medical Center; the Bacharach Institute of Rehabilitation, which houses a therapy site in the center; and starting in the fall, Congregation Beth Israel in Northfield, where the center will hold a second early education program for 2½ year olds through kindergarten as the first step in expanding JCC's services to the Mainland.
Children enrolled in the program will be bussed to the Margate site at least once a week to utilize its swimming pool, said Marg Mancuso, chief operating officer of the the JCC. Enrollment is currently open.
"Creating partnerships is important in this economy. Hopefully, the Linwood Country Club will be our next partner. They have a beautifully established site and we would love to add onto it," Mancuso said.
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