New community center opens in Aberdeen

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By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

ABERDEEN — Following extensive renovations, township officials celebrated the grand opening of the new Fiorendo Sigismondi Cliffwood Community Center at the site of the former Cliffwood First Aid facility at 651 Prospect Ave.

On May 15, more than 100 members of the township community, including Mayor Fred Tagliarini, Deputy Mayor Margaret Montone, members of the Township Council, and family members of the late Fiorendo Sigismondi —who was a dedicated patrolman with the township’s police department and a charter and life member of Aberdeen First Aid —were on hand to celebrate the transformation of the building into a new home for current township services and additional recreation activities and community gatherings.

“It has been a long road … trying to get this all together, but ultimately I think this will be good for the township,” Councilman Gregory Cannon said around this time last year when the township secured nearly $150,000 in grant funding from Monmouth County to rehabilitate the 5,700-square-foot building.

The former first aid facility became vacant with the privatization of the Aberdeen Township EMS, Township Manager Holly Reycraft had said previously.

Ownership was then transferred to the Aberdeen Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which used the facility for its meetings.

In late 2014, ownership was transferred to the township for use as headquarters for the H.A.M. Therapeutic Recreation Program and other community uses, such as fundraisers and activities for seniors.

“The Cliffwood Community Center is something that Aberdeen has needed for a long time,”  Tagliarini said in a statement.

Work to help the new community come to fruition, performed by township-based Quality 1st Basement Systems, included general repairs and updates, a new parking lot, upgrades on the restrooms and doorways and other improvements to make the building handicapped-accessible.

With construction now completed, the building will serve as the new home of the H.A.M. Therapeutic Recreation Program, as an office for the township’s PBA and as a space for additional recreation activities, community meetings and other events.

Originally, the H.A.M. Therapeutic Recreation Program, which provides a variety of educational and social activities for developmentally disabled residents of Hazlet, Holmdel, Aberdeen and Matawan, operated out of a small classroom at the Borough of Matawan’s municipal complex at 201 Broad St.

The new, expanded home will be used for camp and other organized events, including H.A.M.’s weekly Night Owls program, as well as their regularly scheduled cooking, arts and crafts, exercise, dance and other classes.

“In addition to providing a home to the H.A.M. program, this newly renovated facility will provide our volunteer organizations with a place to conduct meetings and serve as a venue for a variety of town events for children to senior citizens,” Tagliarini said.

Meetings and events that can be held at the new community center include exercise classes, mommy and me programs, father-daughter/mother-son dances and much more.

The facility can accommodate up to 150 people and has a fully equipped kitchen that is also available to rent for private parties.

“The new community center will make a nice addition to the borough and will provide a lot for residents,” Reycraft said previously.