SUMMIT, NJ - A crowd of enthusiastic and inquisitive Summit residents recently packed the Summit Diner, getting a status report on plans and progress made to revitalize the Summit Community Center.

The current facility located at 100 Morris Avenue is, by overwhelming consensus, desperately in need of a complete overhaul.

A planned $5.7 million project will feature an estimated 11,600 square feet of new space, while renovating about 8,000 square feet of existing space, adding on a new full-size gymnasium, as well as restrooms, meeting spaces, a senior lounge, teen area, kitchen and more. Improvements will also be made to the current facility’s existing space, including parking, HVAC, and accessibility upgrades.

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The project has two funding components, the first being a $4.5 million piece unanimously approved by the Summit Common Council in April of 2014 on the condition that a maximum of $4.5 million of City funds would be used for the project, and the remainder would be raised through partnerships of private and public entities.

In the end, this public / private partnership's goal is to produce a true community asset which addresses important community-wide needs while, at the same time, respecting the pocketbooks of Summit taxpayers.

In late July of 2015, designs were unveiled for the upgraded facility, and it was announced by Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings that Investors was becoming a Founding Partner and pledging $250,000 to jump start the effort.

The Diner, "world headquarters" of the Other Fellow First Foundation -- a group whose recent letter to the editor in TAPinto Summit outlined the need for, and their support of, the initiative -- was the final stop of an evening that began with a tour of the Community Center given by Judith Josephs, Director of Community Programs. There, attendees saw the state of disrepair the facility currently is in, along with the limitations inherent to the current layout and space.



Following a bus trip to the Diner, cocktails and a good old-fashioned meatloaf dinner were served by a wait staff populated by a combination of local celebrities, including Al Leiter and Wellington Smith, along with Mayor Nora Radest, former Mayor Jordan Glatt, Summit High School Boys Hoops Honcho Dan Healy, COS-SJCC Rabbi Avi Friedman and Brett Haire.

There, The guests heard three stories.

The first, was a description of the 62 year-old, very tired facility, which needs a significant facelift.

The second, was an outline of the impressive services the new facility is designed to address. Currently, the facility receives 1,800 visits each week by seniors, students after school, hundreds of basketball players of all ages, and special needs students participating in the TRYcan program. When finished, the new facility will continue to address these needs as well as expand program offerings to better serve the community.

Finally, Radest described the significant success of the capital campaign. So far, in just six months, the campaign -- led by Drew Maldonado, A. Jude Avelino, and Regina Feeney --  has raised $700,000 of the required $1.2 million. Radest noted that she is working on creating a matching challenge grant program to help stimulate a strong close by the public.

Since the project will not commence without the private financing in place, there is a sense of urgency for the community to rally around the project.

The evening ended with a spirited call to action by both Leiter and Rabbi Friedman, and a thank you to the guests from Radest.

For more information on the capital campaign to revitalize the Summit Community Center, contact Drew Maldonado at drewmaldonado@verizon.net; A. Jude Avelino at javelino@avelinolaw.com; or Regina Feeney at rmfeeney12@gmail.com.