Toms River Regional will hold a special meeting today to approve the repair of the Bennett Athletic Center, which ripped and flattened in Hurricane Sandy.
Discussion on whether to repair or replace the "bubble," which was both rented out for sporting tournaments such as winter track meets and used daily by the district as the gymnasium space for Intermediate East, ensued at the November school board meeting.
Residents as well as school board members and officials debated whether the Bennett Bubble should be fixed, replaced or even rebuilt as a brick building, but Toms River Regional Schools Business Administrator Bill Doering said it was paramount to make a decision as soon as possible since the school was without its regular gym space.
Doering said the Bennett center is used by Intermediate East students daily for gym classes, but that the district also is hoping to have the structure fixed because multiple indoor track meets are scheduled for the winter track season, which starts in December. The district wants to honor those contracts, as renting out the Bennett complex is a source of income for the district.
However, residents and board members debated whether repair was the best option. The life span of the fabric that makes up the air structure is 15 years. Board member Alex Pavliv questioned the profitability of the Bennett Center, while residents called for a more detailed look at whether having the site was worth it or whether a brick building would be forth the cost considering it would appreciate as real estate, instead of depreciate from obsolete materials after 15 years.
Doering said the cost to repair the Bubble would be $300,000-400,000, while replacing it could run $800,000 approximately. A completely new building could require a referendum vote, put before voters on a special election day.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Toms River High School North.