The new Bay Avenue Community Center in Manahawkin opened Friday, replacing the Mill Creek Community Center, whose interior was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“Stafford Township spent three years battling with insurance companies and FEMA in order to secure $1.9 million in funding to support the construction of the new community center,” said James Moran, Stafford Township business administrator.
The center holds 250 people in 4,600 square feet. It has several meeting rooms and a full kitchen and was built to function as an emergency shelter. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funded most of the $2.3 million project.
Mibo Construction Co. of Atco, Camden County, built the new community center in less than a year. It did an outstanding job, Moran said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better contractor to work with,” Moran said.
The township Recreation Department will operate the new center, with expanded services and programs to address the needs of both young and old residents, Moran said.
There will be more programs for seniors, children’s offerings, social services programs, a dress for success program and counseling for addicted family members, among other programs, Moran said.
Construction was delayed for about two years as the township tried to prove Sandy caused the damage to the Mill Creek center. The facility was flooded with more than 2 feet of water when Sandy struck Oct. 29, 2012. It was later torn down.
The decision to move the new center’s location to East Bay Avenue was made for access, safety and the fact that it will be less likely to flood, Moran said.