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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 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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