A $5 million, 20,000-square-foot satellite facility is being proposed by the Margate-based Jewish Community Center that would provide an indoor swimming pool for members on the mainland.
The facility would eliminate the need for the Milton and Betty Katz JCC’s mainland members to travel over the Margate Causeway bridge and pay the $1.50 toll each way to reach the existing facility on Jerome Avenue, where it has been since 1959.
About 30 people, a mix of interested residents and members, attended a meeting on the plan Tuesday night at the Linwood Country Club, the possible future site of the satellite facility.
Jack Fox, executive director of the JCC, addressed misconceptions that the Margate building was being moved. The new building would provide services in addition to the Margate facility, he said.
The main focus is to provide an indoor Olympic-sized pool, in addition to the existing smaller pool in Margate, for the center’s about 2,000 members, half of whom are Jewish, Fox said. An estimate was not available Tuesday night on how many of the members live on the mainland.
Marg Mancuso, chief operating officer for the JCC, said the preliminary details include a pool, two locker rooms and about five multi-purpose rooms. A snack bar, which would be health-oriented, kid-friendly and family-oriented, is also proposed.
Fox said there could also be an outdoor pool and “splash area,” which would have water-park-type fountains or squirting mechanisms.
Fox said that design and plans would depend on how much money was raised by the community. He estimated a cost of $250 per square foot, “and you can multiply that.”
The total for a 20,000 square foot building would the be about $5 million, using the $250 estimate.
Members of the audience asked about the potential for tennis courts or a gym, to which Fox replied there has been some dialogue about the courts, but a gym facility may be further down the road. There are already facilities available in the vicinity and there would be too much competition, he said.
Mancuso polled the audience toward the end of the meeting, asking how many would join the new facility if it included a gym, and more than half raised their hands.
“I think I hear from a lot of people that they need to have another facility,” said Linwood resident Susan Mayer. “People say they would love for this club to have a pool, and that (JCC satellite) answers that. Residents would like another gym and pool right here.”
Some mentioned the competition to the Mainland Recreation Association, which celebrated 50 years this year, and its outdoor pool on Central Avenue in Linwood.
Linwood Mayor Richard DePamphilis III attended and said there was definitely a need for the facility in the community.
“I was originally from Longport, and I couldn’t afford to stay there. There are a lot of people from Margate and Ventnor and Longport who are moving over here,” DePamphilis said.
In addition, it was unclear, he said, whether or not the facility would be tax-exempt or be a new commercial ratable for the city. The additional traffic the facility would bring was also a concern.
The road leading into the club is one lane, which could cause a buildup of traffic. Fox said there would need to be additional parking for the facility if it were to be built at the country club.
One Northfield resident, Dan Mittelman, said he was a longtime member and likes the safe environment provided by the JCC.
“I grew up in Atlantic City. I went to JCC as a little kid. I live in Northfield now, and my kids have gone to the JCC from the time they were born, literally infants, till they were in kindergarten,” Mittelman said. “To have a safe program for little kids, the way its run over there (Margate) would be a great thing for the mainland.”
The JCC celebrated 100 years this year. It was founded in Atlantic City in 1912 and moved to Margate in 1959.
“I think its a terrific marriage between the JCC and Linwood Country Club. It fills a need on both fronts,” said Margate resident Sandy Mackler, and a member of the JCC. “I can see my son golfing, and his kids swimming, and his wife, happy.”
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