Franklin Township: Youth Center Project Moving Forward, December 2020 Set for Opening

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49 Lewis Street concept drawing
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Township Manager Robert Vornlocker, Robert Reid and Martin Kimmel Credits: Malik Lyons
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SOMERSET, NJ - The Township Council voted unanimously to approve $970,000 in funding from the capital fund balance to pay for architecture and engineering costs for, a three-story 25,000-square-foot community youth center, slated to be built on Lewis Street, during Tuesday night's council meeting. 

Township Manager, Robert Vornlocker said $230,000 additional dollars had already been appropriated earlier this year to bring the total costs to $1.2 million for the services.  

The design of the center was based on feedback collected by key stakeholders during listening sessions held earlier this year. 

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More than 13,000 square feet will be set aside as active space for attendees to have room for community events, group exercise programs, music/video production and many other activities.

Office space for counseling and public areas for gathering would be available for the community. A library and outdoor space is also slated for the facility. 

According to Mayor Phil Kramer, the Parks and Recreation Department will run programs out of the facility. 

According to the approved ordinance: 

The full-service scope of architectural and engineering services required to complete the design and construction documentation as well as facilitate the bidding and construction of the New Community Youth Center. These services will include planning, design, documentation, bidding, and construction phase services for: Architecture, Interior Design, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Mechanical (HVAC), Electrical, Plumbing, Engineering and potentially Food Consulting, if needed.

TAP here for the full ordinance. 

The youth center is projected to cost between $13 million and $14.6 million, according to the architectural firm contracted by the township, Kimmel Borgette. 

According to a draft schedule from Kimmel Bogrette, the project should kick off by July 1, 2018, and be completed by December 2020. 

Councilwoman At-Large Kimberly Francois has been leading the charge for the youth center, questioned why the completion date was so far in the future.

Martin Kimmel, principal for Kimmel Bogrette said the land development process is at least six months from the time you submit engineered site drawings to groundbreaking time. Another 12 to 16 months for construction, and as a result, the project would not be completed before the projected date. 

"Independent from anyone in this room you are kinda 10 months to a year out, best case scenario from the day that you start until the first time you can literally scrape a shovel in the ground out there," Kimmel said. 

Township Attorney, Louis N. Rainone initially didn't agree with Kimmel's timeline, but eventually, agreed it was within reason.

Kimmel, Rainone, and Francois discuss timeline details:

According to Kimmel, the schematic design should be completed by Aug. 3, and design development by Oct. 19. Bidding on the project should start February 2019, and be completed in early March 2019, according to Kimmel. 

Youth center contracts are scheduled to be awarded by May, and construction set to start early June, according to Kimmel.  

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