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Toms River School District Cost to Repair Bennett Bubble: $25K

Measure to repair the indoor track complex flattened by Hurricane Sandy approves school board vote unanimously

The cost of repair materials to the Bennett Athletic Center could come in at $800,000, but the Toms River Regional School District is hoping FEMA would pay for 75 percent of the cost after an insurance deductible, leaving the school district with a $25,000 bill.

In a special board meeting Monday night, Toms River Regional school board heard from residents, Intermediate East staff and physical education teachers and coaches about whether to repair the flattened Bennett “Bubble,” which ripped as Hurricane Sandy’s high winds and power outages befell Toms River.

The structure, on the Intermediate East campus, has lain flat since the storm, in what district officials said has risked the coming indoor track season as well as overcrowding of the intermediate gym classes.

School Business Administrator Bill Doering estimates the cost to repair the Bubble could come in around $800,000. However, the district’s insurance deductible is $100,000.

Superintendent Frank Roselli said that after he, Doering and other officials met with FEMA on Nov. 21, he came away assured that the district would only be paying for 75 percent of that, or $25,000.

“We are responsible for 25,000 of that regardless of the cost,” said Board President Ed Gearity.

The total cost is currently estimated at $800,000, but could end up being much higher, Roselli said.

“The challenge of coming up with a definitive number is we won’t have one until we get out there,” the superintendent said.

Officials still have to see what is under the felled ceiling of the air structure, and test much of the equipment. This could add to the costs.

Roselli said no matter how high the price tag, the district’s price tag will remain the same: $25,000.

“Max expenditure to the board is $25,000, period,” Roselli said. “We work with the insurance company and FEMA to come to these assurances.”

The district education facilities manager has determined the structure was severely damage, and is no longer a safe environmental for students and staff.

Not having the Bubble for the last three weeks had a dramatic impact on the physical education program at the school, said several of the district athletic personnel who spoke at tonight’s meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Debra McKenna, who oversees the intermediate classes, said the Bubble is used during the day extensively for physical education.

“Six classes a period, every period, every day,” McKenna said. “Sixth, seventh and eighth grades have gym classes every day.”

McKenna was also principal at Intermediate East the year before the Bubble was built. She said the overcrowding resulted in students having gym classes in hallways and in the cafetorium.

“Phys. Ed. today isn’t what Phys. Ed. was when we were there,” McKenna said. “With the class guidelines and space we’ve been able to utilize there, it’s quite an improvement.”

Among the other supporters were current students and recent alumni, including some from out of the area who said they’ve rented the Bubble to have charity track meets.

Other residents had technical questions about the actual use of the site for school instruction versus rental and sports programs.

Intermediate East Principal Bryan Madigan voiced his “concern over the loss of the John Bennett Athletic Complex,” specifically for physical education instruction.

“One of the main reasons was the overcrowding of Intermediate East. With the new state standards and objectives in promoting a healthy lifestyle it becomes impossible to meet those objectives,” Madigan said. Currently 195 students are in each period of gym, with six teachers.

Several of those teachers came out tonight in support of the structure.

Joe Arminio, District Athletic Coordinator, said the Bubble is for instruction but also is a “training center for athletes.”

He said without the local indoor track site, schools would see students bussed two hours away for four-hour meets, ending the day home in bed past midnight.

“We’re going to force our athletic teams to put an hour long bus ride in… participate in 3-4 hour meet and take a 2 hour bus ride home. The athletes and coaches roll in around midnight. Parents get out of bed to pick up the students and drive home,” Arminio said. “We’re putting our students, staff and parents in a dangerous situation.”

Gregory Roth, a teacher at Intermediate East for 12 years, described how much students, particularly the sixth graders, enjoy using the structure for gym classes.

“It was a major concern for most of the students there. Seeing their expression, they were sad, missing out on something great,” Roth said. “Six graders are astonished at what our district can do for them.”

Board member Jamie Jubert said the original decision about eight years ago to have the structure was one of careful consideration.

“We had many discussions on athletic committee meetings. East was not one of the first options on where the Bubble would be placed,” Jubert said. “This isn’t something we had just thrown together. We had figures of what it would cost for bussing our children to other meets. There was a need, not just a space to put it.”

At a meeting last week, discussion ensued on what was possible and what was best to do, given options to repair, replace or build a completely different structure at the site.

Instead, after a meeting with insurance and FEMA officials, the district saw the lost cost and pushed for the repair of the structure.

Doering the original warrantee for the air structure was for the fabric, and was a 15 year warrantee. “We still have approximately 8 years lefts on that warrantee, any repairs would not be done without honoring that warrantee,” said the business administrator. In order to re-open, the district would also need a fire inspection.

The unanimous vote of the full board, many of whom gave an affirmative of “absolutely” instead of a “yes” to the question of repairs, was the only item on the night’s agenda.

The next step for the bubble is multiple quotes, with the contractor chosen in conjunction with the insurance company. 

Doering said previously they hope to have the structure repaired “as soon as possible” to reinstate gym classes but to also honor December indoor track rental contracts.

"That is why an emergency contract resolution was approved tonight because a 60-90 day bid timeframe would deprive the kids of gym space for far too long, and we would lose the entire winter," said Doering.

Board member Loreen Torrone asked what can be done to modify the structure so the damage doesn’t happen again. Doering suggested modifications to the scoreboard could be a preventative measure.

The vote passed, with applause from the crowd.

teatleytea November 27, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The BOE that was just voted in with the November election do not take office until January. The people who voted on repairing this eyesore are the same people who have been here before and after "Super Storm Sandy".
grace November 27, 2012 at 06:51 PM
you all really need to protest this...enough is enough..talk about a ripple effect from ritacco nightmare come on and tr east teacher guaranteed either married into or knew mr ritacco ...and mr arminio albeit a nice guy was ther during the cash money handling at the ritacco center..and is doing the same at the bubble?
Mike L November 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
First of all the $800,000 must be off the top of his head or out of his ....... They can build a casino for less and get help from the state......how much was the Cita school we just built last. A gym with porta potties must be a lot less.....that's why we need an outside consultant, not the OLD BOE to spend out monies beforethey leave!!!!
Ajv November 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM
That thing was crap from day one
skizma November 27, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Fix it. Done. You folks didn't read, the deductible is what the district will have to pay. If the repairs go up, that's the insurance side. The $25,000 is the district's portion of the deductible. Fix it and use it. It's such a great facility and the town ought to be proud it's such a great place everyone wants to come to.
Ajv November 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Proud? It's a ritacco eye sore
Ken November 28, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Totally agree
Ken November 28, 2012 at 04:45 AM
That is if they don't decide to add "extras" to it
skizma November 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Well, it's not an eye sore. It is sooo appreciated and used to the max. OK Ken, what extras? Like bathrooms maybe? and??? It's an excellent facility and something for the members of your community to actually use. The WASTE for football programs is atrocious. You say NOTHING about all the artificial turf fields installed at all your schools. What a waste you could say. But, it's not. Track is something I'm sure neither ken or ajv have set foot on in all their life except if someone forced them to. All of the sports and use of the facility are terrific. A true asset.
skizma November 28, 2012 at 10:46 AM
ugly? you must be kidding. It's an indoor facility and probably the best spent money. That thing generates money via all the meets held there and it encourages the best sport, running. We think nothing of the waste in all the football programs that are the worst sport for you. There are some uglier buildings that we all wish would be blown away. It's a great facility and something used far beyond it's initial expense. It could be better, but it's one of the most used and best used around. Other than the indoor pools....why there aren't more is amazing....we are an ocean and bay front community......anything we can do to encourage good lifestyles is a positive for any community. Any.
skizma November 28, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Track meets occur all weekend long as well. This facility is constantly humming with races and activities from everyone around the state. You folks have no idea how valued that bubble is. Fix it and continue to make your area valued and desirable to live in.
Ajv November 28, 2012 at 11:12 AM
@skizma I was on track for 8 years, so lose that sad sack comment.asset? Doubtful more like liability. Ritacco eyesore
Ken November 28, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Skizma... you say it is something members of my community can use. Does that mean I can go there anytime I want and I can use it??? As far as extras, who knows what this administration would want to put in there, I put nothing past them. You are correct about one thing I do not do track in school, I played a real team sport.
jet November 29, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Why can't the bubble be opened to Toms River residence? Yes it is used for track and I'm sure all of the kids that participate in it are appreciative of the facility. But I pass the bubble multiple times a day 7 days a week and it is closed far more than it is open. Residential access passes would be a great opportunity for tax payers to reap some benefits from the community.
susan miller November 29, 2012 at 02:02 AM
How about the irony? Ritacco is in jail and the bubble has collapsed. I drive past the bubble everyday. It is an eyesore, it has no ventilation and smells horrible during track meets. We all know it will cost far more than 25,000 to repair. The Clean Slate team can't start their work fast enough. Please don't let us down. We voted you into office to stop the BS by this BOE. Your first order of business -- audit the so-called rental income from the bubble. I'm sure the claims that the bubble brings in significant revenue are lies. Remember basic accounting: revenue MINUS expenses = profit. Are the real bubble expenses being accounted for? I doubt it.....
Ken November 29, 2012 at 02:09 AM
There are already 3 members of the Clean Slate team on the board from last year and they all voted to repair this as well as the Ritacco 6.
susan miller November 29, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Yes, but we need the newest members to have a majority to keep the remaining Ritacco-era BOE members in check. The party is over.
Ken November 29, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I understand that, but I was stating the three already there voted right along with the Ritacco leftovers. Still hoping in the next election the last of the three from Ritacco are also voted out.
TRWatch November 29, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Again, if the cost of the deductible is $100,000 and we are responsible for 75% of the deductible, how did we come up with $25,000? In my opinion, if FEMA is going to cover 75% of the 800,000 repair there is still $200,000 on the table. With a $100,000 deductible, we are going to pay, at least, $100,000, just saying.
JD November 29, 2012 at 04:21 AM
If it costs $800,000.... Insurance will pay 700,000... due to $100,000 deductible... However, it appears Fema will cover 75% of the $100,000 deductible therefore, TRRS will pay $25k. Fema doesn't pay the insurance company anything...
TRWatch November 29, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Thanks for the info, I get it now. The first paragraph is a little misleading.
grace November 29, 2012 at 02:49 PM
i cant believe the BOE is even considering this now...maybe focus on the many children/families of toms river who have lost their homes...still cant find places to live no clothes etc lifelong memories belongings gone...my god what is wrong with them?
Pavlivdogs November 29, 2012 at 03:00 PM
JD u expect us to trust the math of someone who barely graduated high school?
Pavlivdogs November 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Editor. Why is this JD person allowed to state falsehoods without reprimand?
Int east dad November 29, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It benefits the students. That's the bottom line
Johnjcpa November 29, 2012 at 07:32 PM
What's wrong with walking and chewing gum at the same time. And please, please tell me who will accept clothes, I've been trying to find someone to take a truckful. If the facility was being used and we were paying to insure it, fix it. Nobody stopped trying to help the families that lost their homes, and there's no reason to stop putting the town back together. What's wrong with you?
grace November 29, 2012 at 08:26 PM
kool aid anyone?
grace November 29, 2012 at 08:35 PM
john did you try grace and peace church? catholic charities ?
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James plummer December 03, 2012 at 03:16 AM
It makes me laugh to see the absolute ignorance of adults when it comes to the battle between the welfare of your disposable income and the benefit something such as the bubble has on an ENTIRE state. You guys call it an "eyesore" but you can close your eyes while driving past it for all I care. You want financial security? Find yourself a job with a better payout. Can't find that job? Go back and get a college education. You guys make me sad...

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