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Toms River Schools to Replace or Repair Bennett 'Bubble'?

Repairs estimated at $300-400,000.

Toms River Regional will hold a special meeting today to approve the repair of the Bennett Athletic Center, which ripped and flattened in Hurricane Sandy.

Discussion on whether to repair or replace the "bubble," which was both rented out for sporting tournaments such as winter track meets and used daily by the district as the gymnasium space for Intermediate East, ensued at the November school board meeting.

Residents as well as school board members and officials debated whether the Bennett Bubble should be fixed, replaced or even rebuilt as a brick building, but Toms River Regional Schools Business Administrator Bill Doering said it was paramount to make a decision as soon as possible since the school was without its regular gym space.

Doering said the Bennett center is used by Intermediate East students daily for gym classes, but that the district also is hoping to have the structure fixed because multiple indoor track meets are scheduled for the winter track season, which starts in December. The district wants to honor those contracts, as renting out the Bennett complex is a source of income for the district.

However, residents and board members debated whether repair was the best option. The life span of the fabric that makes up the air structure is 15 years. Board member Alex Pavliv questioned the profitability of the Bennett Center, while residents called for a more detailed look at whether having the site was worth it or whether a brick building would be forth the cost considering it would appreciate as real estate, instead of depreciate from obsolete materials after 15 years.

Doering said the cost to repair the Bubble would be $300,000-400,000, while replacing it could run $800,000 approximately. A completely new building could require a referendum vote, put before voters on a special election day.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Toms River High School North.

Mike L November 27, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Hi, I understand that we should do as much as we can for the kids, but these are trying times. If you believe that this is a necessary facility then why didn't we build a bricks and mortar building in the past? As far as it being a rental property, WHO do we rent it to, OURSELVES, the use of the building is charged to the schools using it, OUR SCHOOLS, do you think that a building with outside "portapotties" would be used by any outside official track meets. It's for intermural use most of the times.....The Administration uses the talking points that the bubble makes money, we are charging ourselves in the schools budget. If you think I am wrong, look at all the groups clambering to get into the "Center" at Toms River North. Another charge ourselves building..........Where did Mr Doering get these figures from, he's no engineer and as far as I remember it takes week to get studies done. Let's get second , third opinion before anything is done....for the love of the children.
grace November 27, 2012 at 06:11 PM
whats wrong with the board voting that in again i dont get it
charlotte November 29, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Ridiculous to think of rebuilding the bubble when you have a 20% loss of tax base and thousands of township residents that are displaced from their homes. It sounds like the mainland doesn't want to be bothered with the barrier island folks - only looking for "what is in it for them". It would be a win-win to form a new barrier island community or join an existing. Comments seem heartless but telling of our culture.
charlotte November 29, 2012 at 01:19 AM
So many of the kids are so over scheduled with sports they shouldn't have to take gym in school. There should be an opt out for kids that are already involved in ample physical exercise through the extensive professional children's sports networks that are present in our community.
sms23 December 20, 2012 at 05:46 PM
@fed up - not quite as "politically correct" as I might put it, but I agree with the sentiment. Outdoors is a huge, free gymnasium. Use it.

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