Plans for new senior and community center moving forward

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Hopewell Township has adopted an amended redevelopment plan for the Zaitz Redevelopment Area that will now allow for the construction of a new senior and community center.

Township Committee members adopted the ordinance amending the redevelopment plan on June 10.

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“So, this is essentially adding a community center as a conditional use in the redevelopment plan to allow for our senior and community center to be built,” Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said.

Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough and Pennington residents will use the center.

The amendment to the redevelopment plan provides an area for the Hopewell Valley Senior and Community Center and also additional roadway access from Reed Road to the Zaitz Redevelopment area.

“There will be separate pedestrian and bike lanes on that access (Reed) road,” Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said. “All of the standards respect the original redevelopment plan. So, there is nothing about the senior and community center that will be in any way more aggressive from a setback standpoint.”

In late May, the Hopewell Township Planning Board recommended the ordinance for adoption but noted – even though the ordinance was inconsistent with the land use element and master plan – it advances the township’s goals of providing a senior and community center, recreational uses and improves the balance of land uses in the master plan.

As this came forward, the Planning Board wanted to “also provide secondary access to the Zaitz Tract from Reed Road,” Kuchinski said. “There will be an additional circulation route.”

The Hopewell Valley senior and community center will use a portion of the Zaitz Redevelopment Area that potentially could contain parking facilities and a community garden in the designated area.

The Zaitz’s area consists of 44 acres and is one of the designated sites that will be utilized for affordable housing as part the township’s third round affordable housing settlement.

The new senior and community center will be located at 1646 Reed Road containing a little more than 15 acres and is near the intersection of Reed and Diverty roads as well as next to the Zaitz Tract.

The first community outreach meeting for the preliminary programming and design of the center was completed in April 2021.

At that time the Trenton-based Spiezle Architectural Group was hired by Hopewell Township. They presented examples that included community multipurpose rooms that can accommodate 100 occupants; a community game room, community art room with a classroom for mixed media; and youth creators space focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programming.

In June 2023, state legislators announced that the project would receive $2 million in state funding to build the new senior and community center.

There are three cost scenarios being examined currently, according to Kuchinski, who said thanks to Township Administrator George Snyder they already have grants from the county and state.

“We have a low, medium and high [cost] based on the feedback we have gotten from the community,” he said, adding they have a group working on the financing. “We will be sending that out to bid and then we will refine based on the bid.”

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