Standing at a podium with a fitting backdrop of the Edison Memorial Tower, Edison Mayor Sam Joshi announced the township will receive $1.5 million in state funding for three key projects.
Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Assemblymembers Robert Karabinchak and Sterley Stanley, who represent New Jersey’s 18th Legislative District, which includes Edison, helped secure the funding to benefit township and state residents.
“It’s fitting that we make this announcement today under our light tower because this is a step toward a brighter future here in Edison Township,” Joshi said during a press conference Monday morning. “These projects are as diverse as Edison itself. They offer a little bit for everyone.”
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As part of Governor Phil Murphy’s 2023 fiscal year budget, which the state legislature approved last month, Edison will receive funding for:
• Construction of an indoor youth sports facility alongside the Edison Jets Pop Warner field ($1 million)
• Expansion and renovation of the Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County ($250,000)
• Improvements to the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park ($250,000)
“From education to recreation and for toddlers to senior citizens, this funding will create myriad opportunities for residents of Edison Township and beyond,” Middlesex County Democrats Diegnan, Karabinchak and Stanley said in a joint statement.
“We are honored to work with Governor Murphy, Senate President Nick Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and our colleagues in the state legislature to bring this funding to Edison.”
Players and cheerleaders from the Edison Jets Pop Warner program, Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park Director Kathleen Carlucci, Edison Memorial Tower Corporation President Leonard Sendelsky, Jewish Community Center Chief Executive Officer Adam Glinn, and members of the township council also joined Joshi for the press conference.
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Joshi said the $1.5 million funding results from a “positive partnership between state and local officials.”
“On behalf of Edison, I want to say thank you to all of you for the time and effort that you have put in to secure this unprecedented amount of funding,” Joshi said, gesturing to lawmakers from the 18th Legislative District seated on his right.
“I know that they fight for Edison as hard as I do, as hard as all of us do. Know that I stand committed along with everyone here to continue to improve the future of Edison every single day.”
Joshi said the soon-to-be constructed Edison youth sports recreation center at the end of Central Avenue and behind Lake Papaianni will “allow our younger athletes to train year-round and be more competitive,” adding the state-of-the-art facility “will make Edison the epicenter of youth sports in New Jersey.”
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The indoor facility will include space for cheerleading, wrestling, basketball, and other sports. An upgraded concessions stand and outdoor viewing deck overlooking the Edison Jets Pop Warner field are also planned. The project will augment conversion of the Pop Warner program’s grass football field to synthetic turf.
“This allows us to be able to care for and deliver more opportunities for more kids,” Edison Jets Pop Warner President Dan Boslet said. “Our cheerleaders have not had anything for years. They practice where they can find space. Now they have their own space and we’ll have winter facilities where we can train. We won’t have to worry about the grass once we get the turf field. It’s going to open a lot of doors for us to serve the community.”
Joshi said funding for the Jewish Community Center will go toward expansion of its facility on Oak Tree Road. Glinn called the funding “transformational.”
“We are about to start a project that will impact a multitude of constituencies, including our senior adults, many of whom are vulnerable, on fixed incomes, and disabled, as well as allowing us to expand early childhood and special needs programs,” Glinn said.
The Jewish Community Center annually serves nearly 12,000 state residents from four counties. It provides an array of programs and social services (socialization, physical and mental health, intellectual stimulation and enrichment programs, therapeutic resources, creative programs, and more) to all ages (infant through senior citizen) and demographics. The Jewish Community Center collaborates with Edison Township Public Schools (the state’s sixth largest district) to provide social, vocational and life experiences for middle and high school students on the autism spectrum and with learning needs. The Jewish Community Center’s Bright Beginnings Preschool curriculum includes STEAM, writing and reading, socialization, literacy, environmental awareness, aquatics and swim lessons, gym, and arts programs.
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“This funding and the ongoing support from the state and the 18th Legislative District really puts us over the top,” Glinn said. “It really enables us to finally see the fruits of all our plans and will impact multitudes of generations in this community for decades.”
Joshi said funding for the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park on Christie Street will provide “additional space that will allow more residents to patronize the museum and provide a greater learning experience for all those that visit.”
An educational center for all ages, the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park celebrates Thomas Alva Edison’s innovation and inspires others to follow in his creative genius. Prior to the pandemic, the 36-acre state park annually served approximately 25,000 patrons from more than 50 countries. Listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places, the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park represents the birthplace of recorded sound and the world’s first incandescent lamp-light bulb. Approximately 400 of Edison’s most important inventions were created in Menlo Park.
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The center consists of the Art Deco Edison Memorial Tower and a small museum and education center devoted to Edison’s time of immense creativity at Menlo Park. The nonprofit Edison Memorial Tower Corporation’s staff and well-trained volunteers host visiting student groups, scout troops, senior citizen groups, camps, clubs, families, and walk-in guests. The staff has previously worked with the township to host a fall festival, winter tree lighting, ice carving and other events at the center. In addition, the staff has partnered with Edison Township Public Schools to host class trips district-wide for second-grade students.
“Our knowledgeable docents are limited in their ability to tell the breadth and depth of the Edison story because of these physical space limitations,” Carlucci said. “Our current facilities do not do justice to the significant and enduring value of the work of the Great Inventor and his team. This site is deserving of a center which can more appropriately honor the legacy of the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park.’”
Sendelsky said the state funding spearheads the corporation’s fundraising campaign to expand the museum, noting it has secured commitments from some major corporations that will soon be announced.
“We are certainly excited,” Sendelsky said, “to have this new facility become an incubation think tank for future innovation in the state.”
Joshi said, “The fact that we are receiving funding to help build upon an educational treasure here in town is truly amazing.”