Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Irvington, NJ - Mayor Sara B. Bost

Chris Gatling Recreation Center

In September 1998, Irvington Mayor Sara B. Bost and National Basketball Association All-Star Chris Gatling opened a new recreation facility, named for the basketball player, in the restored former Police Athletic League building. The Chris Gatling Recreation Center is providing structured recreational, athletic, educational and cultural programs that have not been available since the PAL facility closed in February 1994. It had been vacant since that time and had neither electricity nor running water.

The new Recreation Center houses the Irvington Department of Parks and Recreation and provides basketball, football, floor hockey, volleyball, cheerleading, weight training, dance/exercise classes, table games, arts and crafts, billiards, music classes, painting, and after-school tutoring and counseling. The Center is committed to:

  • •maintaining recreation programs for youth, adults and senior citizens;
  • •devising alternatives to drugs and street violence;
  • •becoming a cultural center for people of all ages;
  • •serving as an oasis for individuals with no place to go; and
  • •providing after-school educational services.

Gatling, who grew up in Irvington and had played basketball at the PAL, initially donated $25,000 for the project. In December 1996, he decided to purchase the building, and did so $135,000. It is leased to the Township for $1.00 per year. The Township used $425,000 in CDBG funds to renovate the building. It saved $25,000 in renovation costs through an arrangement with Northern State Prison in Newark which allowed eight low-risk inmates to spend a week gutting the ceilings and walls of the facility. The Department of Parks and Recreation operates the Center and administers its programs using funds already in its budget. The only additional costs to the Township are for utilities and insurance.

Contact: Toni Bennett, Acting Director, Office of Community Development and Planning, (973) 399-6657

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