When the Woodbridge Council allotted almost $40,000 to a PR firm to market the Woodbridge Community Center in 2012, what were they getting for their money?
So far, there's been a new logo and a new program name, the Woodbridge Family Series, a compilation of events that have been held in the township throughout the years.
The Have-A-Heart Food Drive, the Easter Egg Hunt, even auditions for Woodbridge Idol, have all been regrouped into the Family Series. The YMCA, the Arenas ice skating rink, and the Skyline Mini-Golf course all come under the heading of money-making ventures that Mayor John McCormac is hoping will produce the revenue he's looking for.
McCormac endorsed the hiring of 20 Lemons, the PR firm that is hawking the Community Center's events.
The township posted an explanation of its repackaged series as "a year-round entertainment showcase featuring concerts, plays, movies, workshops, and other fun-filled special events geared towards families and kids..."
The repackaged series is described as "improving the quality of life for residents and visitors," with an emphasis on drawing non-Woodbridge residents to the township, presumably to bring business and revenues to town.
"Most of the events are free," the website explains.
"With its quality brand of performers, the Family Series attracts visitors from throughout Central New Jersey."
The PR firm seems to be pushing the mini-golf course, which opened in April, 2012. Even in January, the course still seems to be open. The Woodbridge Chamber of Commerce recently held a business card exchange, while touting the golf course as one of the attractions for the $15 fee.
The 18-hole miniature golf course, built on a capped landfill site, cost $428,000 in bond money to build. In April when it opened, McCormac bragged that the golf course would generate as much as $500,000 in revenue.
The figures so far seem to fall far short of the mayor's estimates.
Before Hurricane Sandy hit Woodbridge, the township said in an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request that the golf course had brought in $79,267 in revenue.
The only expenses the bookkeepers are figuring, though, is the cost of part-time help to run the golf course. The expense costs, received in response to an OPRA request for the same time period of April through September, was $17,165.
That leaves a net profit of $62,102, based on these figures.
The salaries of other employees were not included in the calculations, nor was the cost of the borrowed money. The cost of the salaries of township public works employees who worked overtime the week before the grand opening of the course, repouring cement and landscaping the property was not included, nor the cost of materials used to finish the course on time.
The almost $40,000 to hire the 20 Lemons firm to promote the community center, and the miniature golf course, was not included in the OPRA request response.