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South Amboy Mayor Fred Henry State of the City Address

Venetian Healthcare and Woodmont Properties Highlighted—

By Gabrielle Gatdula & Ben Cain —

SOUTH AMBOY – On Feb. 29, Mayor Fred Henry gave his first State of the City address at the YMCA in downtown South Amboy. His roughly 35-minute speech focused on the rejuvenation of the city’s downtown area and his desire to bring a ferry service back to the city.

A vital part of the downtown renovation includes the construction of the $25 million Venetian Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, which is being privately funded by Windsor Healthcare Communities. The rehabilitation center, which will stand adjacent to the YMCA, began foundation work on Feb. 6.

The four-story, 93,000 square foot facility is scheduled for completion by the spring of 2013. According to Windsor Healthcare Communities founder and CEO Hyman Jacobs, the building will be tax ratable, and it is estimated to create 200 construction jobs while employing approximately 200 people once it opens. Henry expressed his enthusiasm on the potential benefits of the project.

“This is a win-win for South Amboy,” said Henry in a press release. “With the Venetian, we will add another great ratable to the city and many jobs.”

Mayor Fred Henry

Along with the creation of the Venetian, plans are in place for the construction of 88 townhouses in the same area, which will be built by Woodmont Properties. City business administrator Camille Tooker hopes that the townhouses, which are also privately funded and will be sold at a market rate, will revitalize the downtown area, stabilize the real estate market, and help the budget by increasing tax revenue.

“It will help everyone that wants property here,” said Tooker. “Not to mention that it will be adding people to the community. The business district hopefully will be able to have more traffic down there, so jobs will be offered.”

The mayor also highlighted the ongoing completion of the Radford Ferry Road extension, which would bring back ferry service to New York for the first time in over ten years. The city awaits state approval to complete the third phase of the project, which is the extension of Radford Ferry Road from the Main Street Bridge to a ferry terminal.

The construction of the ferry terminal and its adjoining parking lot will be the fourth and final phase of the project, and the city will start extending bids for it once phase three is completed. The project is being funded entirely through the Federal Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21), which has allocated the city with over $13 million in transportation-related funding.

“At this point we have advertised, received bids, and submitted all the information to the state for approval,” Henry said. “Once we get that approval, we can finish the road to the terminal site and the so-called “bridge to nowhere” will go to a place where people can once again get a ferry ride to New York.”

Henry also discussed his “pet project,” the Historical Society, which is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of South Amboy by educating city residents about important events in the city’s history. One of the ways the organization plans to carry out its goals includes the placement of plaques around historical sites throughout the city, such as the 1950 Camden-Amboy Railroad explosion and the first air mail flight from South Amboy to Perth Amboy in 1912.

“You have to know where you came from to understand where you’re going,” said Henry, who is a former history teacher. “If the people don’t understand the history of their town, they have no real direction, and that’s why I want to keep that alive.”

Other topics Henry discussed were upgrades to the electrical systems in five firehouses, updates to technology in the police department, the enhancement of facilities and infrastructure at the YMCA, and the eventual replacement of a leak in the roof of city hall. All improvements have been carried out with the help of a variety of grants.

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