SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Improvements to the gym at the South Plainfield PAL Recreation Building were completed late last week and unveiled to the public Monday evening.

“When you walk in here, it looks like there was a complete renovation,” said Mayor Matt Anesh, who along with Director of Recreation Kevin Hughes and members of the South Plainfield Borough Council, Recreation Commission and PBA attended the Aug. 29 ribbon cutting. “This is great for kids and the leagues. This was money well spent.”

Back in May, the Borough Council approved a $168,000 bond ordinance for improvements to both the PAL and Willow Park; close to $30,000 was appropriated for landscaping, fencing and the purchase and installation of a play structure at the park located behind Borough Hall with the remainder of the funds allocated for renovations at the PAL, including the installation of a new gym floor, fresh paint and updates to the building’s bathrooms.

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On Aug. 1, painters with Natelli Brothers of Old Bridge brightened up the gym with a fresh coat of paint and immediately after the Vermont-based Tarkett Sports began the installation of a new, multipurpose vinyl floor. According to the Tarkett Sports website, the flooring used ‘provides a high degree of shock absorption, uniformity, and comfort for athletes’ made from a material that ‘excels in multipurpose gymnasiums.’ The flooring installed at the PAL can be found at Rider University, a Division 1 school, as well as at both the Clark Recreation Center and the Rahway Recreation Center.

“A lot of research was done to ensure that the top surface out there was put down and I am extremely thankful to the mayor and council for being supportive and getting behind this project,” said Hughes. “It’s beautiful and looks like a brand new state-of-the-art facility.”

South Plainfield Police Officer and PAL President Chris Colucci said, “We are really happy with the way it turned out. It’s a show piece now and I hope the kids get a lot of use out of it.”

Along with the fresh coat of paint and new flooring, the borough’s Recreation Commission also purchased from Rutgers six used glass backboards for the side baskets and the South Plainfield Department of Public Works has been busy updating the building’s bathrooms, changing the fixtures and installing new hand dryers, sinks and auto-flush toilets.

The entire project took just under a month from start to finish with the gym officially reopening to the public following Monday night’s ribbon cutting.

“South Plainfield is a very sports-oriented town and I am really happy to see improvements being done,” added Councilman Joe Wolak, chair of the borough’s Recreation Committee. “This is a huge improvement and I think a lot of people in town are going to think so, too.”

As part of the renovation project, the old retractable wood bleachers were also removed and will be replaced in the near future by new ones. “We are researching our options to find the most affordable and cost effective bleachers that are either retractable or portable,” said Hughes, adding that the goal is for the bleachers, which will be funded through the recreation department’s regular budget, to be on hand by November when the travel season begins.

The South Plainfield PAL Recreation Building opened in 1963 with an expansion completed in June 2001. In 1988, the original gym floor was replaced and, a few years ago, new, energy-saving lighting was installed. Open year-round seven days a week year - with the exception of a few holidays – the gym is used for travel basketball as well as for conditioning classes, Safety Town each summer, and other community events.

“I never thought it would turn out like this and I am very happy with it,” said Bill Cochrane, who has served as president for 15 of his 25 years on the Recreation Commission. “We have our turf field, our pool, we have our weight room, our wrestling facility and this new gym. The mayor and council have been so supportive and it’s great to see all the good things that are happening.”

Hughes added, “This building gets constant, constant use. It needed a little TLC. I am ecstatic with the way it came out and excited for the kids to play on it.”

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