Mayor John Spodofora thanked actor Alec Baldwin for his recent $250,000 donation to help rebuild the Mill Creek Community Center at Thursday’s meeting.
Baldwin’s philanthropic foundation, the AB Foundation, made the donation to rebuild the Stafford Township center earlier this month after learning about the situation through Governor Chris Christie's office.
In an earlier reported statement, Baldwin said, “I realized these facilities that are hubs, that are centers of community activity like the Mill Creek Community Center, serve this incredible function.” Baldwin added that he wanted his donation to do something that might otherwise be overlooked.
Spodofora said he is still communicating with Baldwin via email. “We are discussing him visiting the township, and I plan to invite him to the township for a formal thank you or even a ribbon cutting event,” said the mayor.
Baldwin’s donation has also “opened the door” for possibly more donations from the entertainment industry, Spodofora said. “Mr. Baldwin’s generosity has certainly put Stafford on the radar of our community,” said the mayor.
Another celebrity who has come to the aid of the township is hometown NASCAR hero Martin Truex, Jr., whose foundation is fundraising for all of Stafford, said Spodofora during his council remarks.
According to Township Administrator James Moran, the center was severely flooded during Sandy and the water destroyed the interior walls and flooring. Moran added the community center’s floor buckled in the storm as the sand below liquefied.
The heating and cooling system were also destroyed as well as the facility’s kitchen and bathrooms. “It is a total loss,” he said.
Insurance will cover a majority of the rebuilding costs that are estimated to be $1.6M, but not all of it, said Moran.
Dawn Papatheodorou , president of the Beach Haven West Civic Association, which held their meetings and events at the center, said they are also planning fundraising events for the center. The first will be a 50-50 to be held as soon as the association obtains the proper license for the raffle.
In the meantime, Spodofora said he will contact the township’s branch of the county library about providing the association a meeting place.
The mayor also said once FEMA vacates the old municipal building at 775 Bay Ave., the facility will be open to the civic association and any other community organization that may need a place to meet.