But one of the largest Year 1 projects resulting from the referendum involves what’s happening outside of the Bubble, which is a completely resurfaced surrounding area.
“The Bubble itself is such an eye-drawing attraction that it’s easy not to notice what exists around it,” said Superintendent David Healy. “But the extensive work being completed in the Intermediate East lot will have immense short- and long-term benefits for our students and families.”
What’s nearly complete outside of the JBAC is much more than a newly-paved lot. Improved drainage, new curbing, new walkways, retaining structures, and pristine lining and striping will make the property surrounding the Bubble more efficient than ever, and will positively impact other seemingly unrelated district departments.
How so? For starters, the old, unmarked lot required additional security personnel to direct traffic for major events. The dirt, dust, snow and soot dragged in to the Bubble from a chipped, debris-filled lot required constant cleaning and resources at the facility. The improvements made both inside and outside of the Bubble will ultimately enable the venue to be utilized 12 months of the year, freeing up space and decreasing the wear and tear at other district locations.
The project, like all of the referendum-based work currently underway, is being overseen by the local engineering firm Maser Consulting PA. Toms River Regional Schools works closely with Maser to schedule, execute, and oversee all of the referendum work taking place throughout the district, and that positive, symbiotic relationship has produced quick turnarounds and impressive results.
“Working closely with the Toms River Regional School District on bringing referendum projects to fruition is the perfect example of how well a partnership functions when both entities are vested in the same vision,” explained Kevin L. Haney, President and COO of Maser Consulting. “Completing the improvements at the John Bennett Athletic Complex project is just one of our recent accomplishments with the district. As we continue to successfully complete referendum projects, we recognize the overwhelming benefit to the community, and being a part of that process is extremely rewarding.”
The Bubble is one of Toms River’s most recognizable landmarks, and among the district’s most indispensable resources. It’s estimated that approximately 11 million vehicles pass the site on Hooper Avenue each year. Intermediate East utilizes the facility daily across its eight-period day, with up to 100 middle schoolers using the venue per period. Beyond its neighboring school, the Bubble is recognized as one of the area’s most popular athletic sites. Approximately 56 track meets are held there across a four-month period each year, including 17 NJSIAA events, a Shore Conference meet, and 17 South Jersey track events, each of which draws between 1,000 and 2,500 participants and spectators.
The site is, in fact, an asset for the entire state, and the rental revenue it generates is a consistent boost to the district’s budget. Fellow school districts (Jackson, Point Pleasant Boro), athletic conferences (Olympic, Greater Middlesex), and nonprofit invitationals (Demarest, Merli, the Midwinter Classic) throughout New Jersey book the Bubble for various events each year.
The work currently taking place in and around the facility will boost the venue’s appeal as a flagship for county and state track and field events and, most importantly, will improve Toms River Regional Schools aesthetically, logistically, and financially.
“It’s difficult to overstate how important this work around the Bubble is,” said Healy. “This not only aims to preserve one of the district’s largest investments and assets for years to come, it helps streamline so many other facets of operations, and makes life safer and better for our students and families.”
The paving project is slated to be completed by mid October.