ELIZABETH, NJ – The six-month remodel of the Mickey Walker Recreation Center was completed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dec. 29, attended by Mayor Christian Bollwage, city officials, and members of the City Council and Board of Education.
According to the city’s Director of Recreation Paul Addessa who supervised the $2 million project, the Anna Street facility received new flooring, remodeled locker and bathrooms, replacement windows and doors, and LED lighting. The center, which is devoted to recreational activities such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, and game rooms, now has new bleachers and a window office, so employees can oversee what’s going on. Even the front entrance sports a new look. It was also redesigned to make it more appealing, said Addessa.
Although six months in construction, the improvements to the center were three years in the planning, starting with Superstorm Sandy. Explained Councilman William Gallman who was City Council president at the time, “Hurricane Sandy caught us unprepared. Never again.”
It was at that time that Councilman Gallman proposed bringing the center up-to-date. “The bathrooms were in deplorable condition. It was like a maze in there.”
But, perhaps, the most important improvement was the addition of generators, making the center an emergency shelter in case of a natural disaster. The center can accommodate 100 cots and has shower facilities, so the city is ready for whatever nature wants to throw at us.