Two years ago, the township was renting the Hungarian Club of Woodbridge on behalf of an amateur theatre group to put on their stage productions.
Since there was a falling out between the club and the town administration over who actually owned the club and the land surrounding it, Mayor John McCormac set his sites on turning Woodbridge Middle School's auditorium into a professional theatre.
Tuesday night, the town council took a step in that direction by awarding a $137,950 contract to install professional lighting at the auditorium.
The bid, rendered by FSC Electric in Perth Amboy, was the lowest of five bids submitted for the project. The FSC bid was about $48,000 less than the next lowest bid of $185,300 from ACI Electric in Saddlebrook.
The township had used the Hungarian Club on Port Reading Avenue to put on plays and other theatrics by teen clubs and other community groups. McCormac himself has made it a tradition to make sure he gets a part himself in each of the plays.
In the production of "Grease," the Woodbridge mayor played the voice of God.
In 2011, the town got into a dispute with the Hungarian Club's board of directors over who had responsibility for the paving of the club's parking lot. That escalated into an argument over whether the club members owned the building and land surrounding it. The club's leadership turned down an offer by McCormac to pave the parking lot out of fear that they might lose the possession of the building if they took the mayor up on it.
Since then, the theatre performances have moved around, but McCormac made it clear that the Woodbridge Middle School would be the town's 'professional' venue. When the plays were held at the Hungarian Club, the town had paid $20,000 to have lighting installed there.
Woodbridge Middle School, which was once the township's sole high school, will have a much more complicated and expensive lighting system installed than what was put in place at the Hungarian Club.
The money for the lighting is being paid for out of municipal funds, including bond issues, not from the Board of Education's tax receipts.