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Woodbridge Pays $138K to Light a Middle School

The contract to light up the Woodbridge Middle School's stage is so amateur theatrical groups will have a professional stage on which to perform


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.

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gam February 07, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Katy- I live here....born, raised, educated and home owner. Hacks, idiots? What are you talking about? I do not like my taxes going up every single year! But neither do my co workers [this is a topic that comes up at work on a regular basis] that live in towns across 4 different counties in NJ. The situation in Woodbridge and the complaints registered by its residents is being repeated throughout NJ. "Fantastic town hall salaries"- can you back this up with some facts? There are clerks, secretaries, custodians,-honest hard working people-are they all receiving "fantastic" salaries? Do you work? Do you live here?
slyfox1961 February 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM
@katy lake: I will for the moment ignore the childish remark and attempt to have an adult conversation with you. Do you even understand that the total amount of your tax bill does not go to Woodbridge Township? Of my 10k plus tax bill, only about $1900 goes to the town. For $1900, the services provided to me can't be beat by any of the surrounding towns. And yes, I was born and raised in Woodbridge. And no, I do not work for the town, never have. Furthermore, I am a registered REP. I also have no problem paying my taxes. Perhaps you should consider moving. I, for one, am tired of people like you trying to drag the town back into the 1950's.
slyfox1961 February 07, 2013 at 06:54 PM
@gam: you will not receive an intelligent response from her, if she is even a she. As I stated before, most of the posters here are one in the same, with different names. They will use every opportunity afforded them to trash the mayor and town council. They want to bring the town back to the 50's, so the only people that live here are fixed and low income types. They won't be satisfied until the town is run down and the property values are so low that the only homebuyers that are attracted to Woodbridge will be Section 8 slum lords. Perhaps Katy Lake would be better off moving to a town she can afford, or go to college and increase her employment options and her income potential, like I did, instead of whining and complaining.
Katy Lake February 07, 2013 at 09:25 PM
YOU are a registered Republican??? If that is even true - WHY??? I know lifelong Democrats who aren't a tenth as sycophantic as you are about McCormac. And YOU'RE a Republican?? Is there something wrong with you??
Katy Lake February 07, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Gam, there are tons of overpaid people in Woodbridge, and what's fun is finding out how many of them are related between the town, the BOE and the county. It's the family business with Democrats; in fact, try to find anyone who isn't related to someone and who actually got a job on their own merits. That's hen's teeth territory in Woodbridge. Gam, so who do you know who works for the town govt or BOE in Woodbridge? Son, daughter, wife? The only people who get upset by questioning the salaries of the zillions of town employees are people who have a financial stake in it. Or perhaps it's you?
Katy Lake February 07, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Slyfox, prove you went to college. I've rarely seen anyone as illiterate as you post in public, unless it's you over on nj.com. You should be the last one questioning who is who! You, the so-called fake 'Republican' who couldn't be up McCormac's sphincter any higher unless you were a polyp! By the way, why ARE you a Republican?
slyfox1961 February 07, 2013 at 11:54 PM
@gam: see what I mean? She (maybe) did not answer one question posed to her by either one of us. All that she responded with was childish, inane insults because she lacks the facts or the intelligence to back up any of the accusations she makes, or the issues she complains about. The proof is in her responses, or lack thereof.
slyfox1961 February 07, 2013 at 11:56 PM
@katy lake: I have noting to prove to you, and I will not further dignify your posts with replies. In other words: .!.. ..!.
gam February 08, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Katy...I'm not sure why I am even bothering to respond to someone that is so completely judgemental, antagonistic, and rude but here goes. I do not work for the town, have no vested interest in businesses that contract with the town, and if you have ever read anything I have written before know that I am no great fan of our Mayor. That being said ...I still think the lights were a good idea!! I believe that is what this post was originally about. since you seem to think it is ok for you to demand answers from everyone here that posts any type of comment that is not in agreement with your thinking....you might consider answering the ones posed to you...[of course done much more politely they you would do]
OFFICIAL BUSINESS February 08, 2013 at 02:08 AM
Here you go Gam: Woodbridge Township Salaries, not including bonus or perks: robert Landolfi $154,000.00 Michael Esolda $100,000.00 Marianne Horta $80,000.00 John Hagerty $95,000.00 Rich Duda $85,000.00 Kyle Anderson $100,000.00 this is the person that got arrest for not paying a traffic ticket. Rich Stevens- custodian one main street $66,500.00
gam February 08, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Official....and your point is? I realize all these salaries including those for cops, teachers etc are available on line. Do I think everyone is worth it? Maybe not but these salaries are not unusual or out of line when compared to other towns. And fyi....I can't stand Landolfi and I just cannot work myself in to a frenzy over someone forgetting to pay a parking ticket....[I have already voiced my opinion on that in the past]. So these salaries and the lights on Wdbg Middle are connected how?
slyfox1961 February 08, 2013 at 02:55 AM
@official business: please explain why you listed the top level township employees as examples. The VAST majority of town employees make FAR less, and there are many, many more of the rank and file. Also, please explain to us what "bonuses" and "perks" they recieve.
slyfox1961 February 08, 2013 at 02:59 AM
@gam: well stated. Like I said earlier, don't expect an intelligent response. They never respond to any questions, they just lob accusations and misinformation in a lame attempt to discredit Woodbridge Officials. If I was as unhappy as they are with the town I liived in, I wouild move.
slyfox1961 February 08, 2013 at 03:00 AM
@gam: ah...yes, the parking ticket issue. They think he should have gotten twenty five to life for that one!
slyfox1961 February 08, 2013 at 03:01 AM
slyfox1961 9:55 pm on Thursday, February 7, 2013 @official business: please explain why you listed the top level township employees as examples. The VAST majority of town employees make FAR less, and there are many, many more of the rank and file. Also, please explain to us what "bonuses" and "perks" they recieve.
Irina February 08, 2013 at 04:14 AM
@slyfox1961 If Mac and crew REALLY wanted to do something for the kids, 24 armed cops for 24 schools... 6 is being chincey, cheap and uncaring for the childrens safety. THAT would be wonderful thing for the community and the kids.
gam February 08, 2013 at 05:26 AM
[If Mac and crew REALLY wanted to do something for the kids, 24 armed cops for 24 schools... 6 is being chincey, cheap and uncaring for the childrens safety. THAT would be wonderful thing for the community and the kids.] I have spoken...I honestly think that is a terrible idea-our children will not be safer with cops in the schools....not in the face of semi automatic weapons. President Regan was surrounded by secret service agents, trained to protect him in the use of deadly force....he was still shot by one crazy person hell bent on shooting him.
Katy Lake February 08, 2013 at 05:50 AM
Of course Slyfox the self-proclaimed "Republican" does what he always does - accuses other people of what HE does. Sly never answers questions, but then, I wouldn't expect it. It's boring bothering with the low IQ types.
Katy Lake February 08, 2013 at 05:57 AM
Gam, of course I LIVE here. Why do you think I'm complaining about the taxes?? If you think that "the lights are a good idea," then pay for them yourself. Double ticket prices for the "amateur theatrics" you enjoy. Hold fundraisers and donate the money. There is no legitimate reason in a RECESSION that shows signs of reviving yet again to spending money on unnecessary frills, including borrowing that money and indebting taxpayers like me for it. It's fiscally insane and morally irresponsible to spend money on such totally unessential goodies, and then raise taxes to accomplish it.
gam February 08, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Katy- Regarding your comment about "amateur theatrics"- I must disagree. While the stage at WMS may be used for community theatre it has already been home to professional musicians as an alternate venue for the Woodbridge on Main series. I consider the arts and the availability of all type of preformers brought in to a local venue a plus for the community. This improved venue has the potential of bringing more revenue in to Wdbg if the downtown merchants can sucessfully market themselves for before or after show dinners, drinks, or perhaps coffee house. Again my township taxes are low compared to other towns for the services provided, I don't have a garbage bill like other towns...school taxes are the ones that have gone absolutely crazy. I'm sure our taxes are probably being used for something in this town that you might be interested in, perhaps something that I think is a waste of money. However our tax monies are used and/or allocated for the greater good of the entire community-and the arts offered in Woodbridge offer a great educational and entertainment benefit to all its residents. It is rather surprising the amount of things that are offered in this township-
senorclick February 08, 2013 at 04:23 PM
being new to Woodbridge, I am wondering if Woodbridge HS already has a stage with "professional" lighting. as I recall it's about a mile from the middle school. I am sure the 138k can be used elsewhere or nowhere.
gam February 08, 2013 at 04:48 PM
senor-it does not have the type of lightening that will be installed at the Middle school. In addition the middle school has an under used stage which will allow for more events to be held there. In addition you are talking "location" -walking distance from downtown and train station. And yes people actually take the train to attend some of the music on main performances. And you are correct the money could be used in any number of places....that could be said about a lot of extra expenses...like mini golf, community center=Y, clean up costs after Colonia Day parade, holiday parade etc.....In my opinion 138k for lightening sounds like a reasonable expense given the benefits to the community in terms of the arts.
senorclick February 08, 2013 at 04:59 PM
can I assume that in the future Woodbridge HS will be using the middle school stage because it will have superior lighting, etc?
gam February 08, 2013 at 05:33 PM
senor-not sure why you would assume that although I suppose anything is possible. Although the lightening is being installed at the middle school it clearly stated in the article that the lightening was to bring the venue up to a professional level so that it could be used as a "professional" theatrical stage. The venue will support community theatre as well as other entertainment/acts.
senorclick February 08, 2013 at 05:59 PM
gam not for nothing....don't you agree that it would be wiser to upgrade a 50 year old HS as opposed to a 100 year old middle school?
gam February 08, 2013 at 06:32 PM
hmmm food for thought...however in terms of return the potential is greater for the Middle school location. You can't think of this is as a student/school venture. It is a township venture. THe middle school is within a totally reasonable walking distance from the train station and 2 "good" restaurants on Main St, 1 brew pub and 1 casual bar [Riffys not the Main..lol]. I see no reason why the auditorium part of the school cannot be maintained and perhaps even reach "historic' status. I would also suggest that once the venue is able to attract more profitable acts..those same merchants that can benefit from it should through the chamber of commerce continue to upgrade the venue...new seats etc.
senorclick February 08, 2013 at 08:47 PM
gam after new seats...then what? this is still a 100 year old building that is a school! maybe we should shut down the school and reopen it as a cultural center and museum and who knows what else. another point is that at the HS the available seating is probably double that of the middle school thereby making it more profitable for more acts.
gam February 08, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Senor-having shows at the high school does not necessarily support the decision to put lights in. With your argument the lights should be installed at JFK since that school is the "youngest" highschool in the township. The proximity to Main St restaurants and the brew pub, as well as the access to the Woodbridge train station makes the middle school location more attractive.
senorclick February 08, 2013 at 11:48 PM
gam you keep talking about the train station. really, how many people come to events in Woodbridge via train. I would guess a hand full.
gam February 09, 2013 at 01:58 AM
right now probably not more then 2 dozen-there are definitely more that drive there. But we are also talking about return on an investment. I am not sure how familiar you are with the music on Main music series? There have been some great shows and the potential is that with a more professional venue even better shows can be booked. These shows have sold out at their present location and I know people that have purchased tickets, met their friends for diner, and then had a great entertainment experience without going to NY or Newark or Montclair. People will be willing to park their cars and walk a block over to Main St to grab a drink or bite to eat. If they get in their cars at the high school they are going to drive home, not back to Main St. The summer months have provided some great free entertainment events at Parker Press-the middle school provides an alternate location when those summer thunderstorms roll in. Sometimes it does have to do with location.

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