U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9) delivered $950,000 in federal funds to help build a new senior center in Secaucus, an allocation that he first spoke about in July.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“I have to thank Congressman Pascrell because he puts people ahead of politics every time. He knows what we need. We needed that money to get this building done,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said.
“The mayor was very, very persuasive when he put the money package together. We were glad it was probably in the last legislation of last year in the omnibus bill. We came up with close to a million dollars. There were 25 projects in my district,” Pascrell said about the need for grant funding.
He explained that this projects wouldn’t exist without federal funds, as well as stating that the deficit soared under former President Donald Trump (R).
While Pascrell noted that he sees maybe Republicans in Washington trying to portray themselves as fiscal conservatives, he bluntly called their talking points “baloney.”
“Most people forget about us. We’re not on the downside of the mountain, and we’re not on our way out,” the congressmen, 86, said about seniors.
He noted Secaucus has received a great deal of federal funding.
“I’m here to discuss one of my favorite topics: federal investments in our community. This building is an investment in the future … The city acted swiftly to neutralize the risk found in the previous center.”
He also noted that seniors were very active in the community when he was mayor of Paterson.
“ … Being a senior, you can never please us,” Pascrell joked.
Additionally, the 9th District representative said the new space would be larger and more handicap accessible and he commended Gonnelli for ensuring there was no interruption of service as they transition from the old location to a new one.
He dded that this project wouldn’t have been possible without the American Rescue Plan, which he said was just one example of the economy turning around under President Joe Biden (D).
“Last month, our economy added half a million jobs. Job growth is at a 40-year high. Unemployment is at a 54-year low. There are 11 million vacant jobs. Federal funds have been essential to restoring our public spaces. Lincoln had the right idea: the federal government acts when locals can’t help themselves.”
Secaucus Town Administrator Gary Jeffas said the need building would be completed around June 2024
“Just before the election. Oh, I see,” Pascrell joked.
Jeffas explained the new senior center would cost $9.9 million in total. He said they borrowed money and will use COVID relief funds, which will be applicable since the building will have a unique air filtration system to combat the spread of viruses.
He also said that the old senior center had contamination in the soil from an oil tank. As an old building, it made more sense to knock it down, clean the soil and replace it.
Furthermore, Jeffas detailed it would be a two-story building with senior service offices, a large community room, a large kitchen to accommodate Wheels on Meals, and an open space for further development. Construction bids are forthcoming.
Finally, Jeffas said while they hope to open in June 2024, it could be completed later that year due to possible supply chain issues.