EDISON – For Edison Jets Football and Cheer, the news of state funding means no more practicing on “moldy, ripped” mats and no more “slipping and sliding” on a grassy field when it rains.
“I’m glad we are finally getting a building we can finally practice in safely and efficiently,” said Allison Dima, who is a student at Edison High School and has been part of the Edison Jets Cheer and Football organization since she was five years old. “Honestly, this has been the biggest project I’ve seen for youth sports ever since I’ve been part of this program, and I’m so happy that you are recognizing youth sports.”
As a coach, she is glad youth sports is getting the recognition it finally deserves not only for cheer and football, but for other sports like basketball and wrestling, who will also use the new building.
“It means a lot,” she said.
Edison Township has received $1.5 million in state funding allocated in the 2023 state budget. Mayor Sam Joshi highlighted the “much needed” funding during a press conference in front of the Edison Memorial Tower on July 11.
Joshi said the funding would not be possible without help from state legislators including State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-18), Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-18) and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-18), who attended the press conference.
“The funding will go towards three new projects in our township,” he said. “[The funds] will not only improve facilities for our residents but will also include some of our history and culture. These projects are diverse as Edison itself. They offer a little bit for everyone, and I believe that is a win-win for all of us.”
The first part of funding – $1 million – will go towards funding for the new Edison Youth Sports Recreation Center, which Joshi’s administration has been a champion of since his first day as mayor.
“When I spoke to the various sports organizations in our town, I heard time and time again there was a dire need for better facilities that could allow our young athletes to train year-round and be more competitive,” he said. “I knew we needed to make something happen.”
The funding will allow for a state-of-the-art facility and essentially make Edison “the epicenter of youth sports in New Jersey,” Joshi said.
“The new indoor facility will include space for cheerleading, wrestling, basketball and so much more,” he said. “All of our youth sports will be able to use the facility year-round. It will also include an upgraded concession stand and provide an outdoor viewing deck overlooking the football field to give everyone the best viewing experience for our teams like the Edison Jets.”
The second part of funding – $250,000 – will go towards the expansion of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Middlesex County at 1775 Oak Tree Road.
“The expansion of the facility will include a two-story 21,000 square-foot space that will provide wonderful programs to benefit our residents of all age groups here in Edison,” Joshi said.
Adam Glinn, CEO at the JCC, said the expansion is “a transformative project” for their community campus.
“This project will add much needed, enhanced spaces for the most vulnerable in our community. Those being our seniors, people with disabilities, people on fixed incomes, as well as for our early childhood and special needs programs,” he said. “We do our best for what we do for the least among us, for the most vulnerable among us and that is the aim of this project.
“It will benefit the entire campus, entire community but will reinforce the major tenet of the JCC and our campus and that is something in Hebrew we call ‘Tikkun Olam,’ which means repair of the world. We all have responsibility to work on behalf for those most in need, we have a responsibility to do beyond ourselves and with this project, it will continue those responsibilities.”
The final part of funding – $250,000 – will go towards the township’s namesake – The Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park on Christie Street.
“It is part of our history of our town and in the state of New Jersey,” Joshi said. “The museum will be expanded into an area bigger than it is right now. The additional space will allow residents to patronize our museum and provide a greater learning experience for all of those who visit. The fact that we are receiving funding to help build upon our educational treasure here in town is truly amazing.”
Kathleen Carlucci, museum director, said their existing 400 square-foot museum and 36-acre state park is deserving of so much more to recognize the legacy of the “Wizard of Menlo Park.”
“[At the museum] each guest receives a personal escorted tour and demonstrations of original items and other related Edison technologies,” she said. “Technology is just as exciting and even more so today than it was back then. This is the birthplace of R&D (research and development). This is where the modern world really begins. Our docents are limited in their ability to tell the breadth and depth of Edison’s story because of the physical space limitation. We actually have to turn away groups, which is heartbreaking especially for schools. Our current facilities do not do justice for the significant value and enduring work of a great inventor and his team.”