During the past few months since the fire we have been making significant progress. Along the way, we’ve provided communications, largely by email and through Shalom New Haven to let you know what’s been going on. We have tried to update you fairly often when there is new information available while trying to avoid saturating your inbox. If you feel at any time like you are out of the loop or that the rumor mill has taken over the narrative, please call us at any time. We are more than happy to speak or email with you to help you better understand what’s happening.
As of today (Tuesday, March 28, 2017) the final stages of the first phase of cleaning and remediation are nearing completion. Original estimates for the completion of this work were targeted at mid-March. The goal of the first phase was to return the building to us clean of debris, clean of soot and water damage and free of lingering odor so that when rebuilding commences it begins with a clean canvas. Some larger scale demolitions were intentionally left to be completed by the construction phase of the project. However, there are very large and wide “risers”, basically large ducts that are part of the HVAC system that were used by the fire department to ventilate the smoke out of the building. It was determined relatively recently that these risers must be replaced during this first phase. That replacement along with duct cleaning of the entire building is going on now.
Were you to walk through the lower level of the building you would see bare concrete where flooring was, bare metal studs where the men’s and women’s spas were, large chunks of drywall ranging from 4 inches to 4 feet cut away and the insulation removed where water damage occurred, and all contents removed from all the offices and gathering spaces as they were deemed unsalvageable. The upper level tells a different story. The living room and adjacent café area look much like the lower level, having taken the brunt of the damage. But the main hallway, auditorium, main Yeladim wing, library and Federation office wing are in fairly good shape. Much of the JCC offices on the main level suffered significant smoke damage and will require much more work to be rehabilitated as well as the offices and classrooms behind the living room through to the back hallway. The community room area was largely unaffected.
During April 11 &12 testing will take place to determine the extent of the damage to the electrical system. At that time, power to 360 Amity Road will be cut. Computer and phone networks are fed to multiple sites from 360 Amity. Steps are being taken to maintain communications for facilities open to the public on April 12th.
A community planning process is currently underway with two task forces working to determine suggestions for the best path forward. They are each looking for viable, feasible and sustainable solutions that will best serve the Greater New Haven Jewish community. To help the task forces in their work, a community planning survey was conducted over to provide current data regarding current use of the JCC, thoughts and feelings about locations and other ideas. Almost 800 people participated over a short 5 day survey window will the majority indicating that a central address for the community was important.
One phrase that is often mentioned by both task forces is “hub and spoke” because it is largely felt that no matter where the “hub” (the largest footprint) of our community may be, we have a responsibility to deliver services to the many “spokes” (other area of significant Jewish population). What is offered in one location may or may not be offered in others depending on the needs and wants of that population. In addition, other data was sought to help build a better understanding of community real estate resources.
Security & Summer Camp
Our community has not been immune to the uptick in anti-Semitism experienced across the country, and quite frankly in many countries around the world. We are aware of changing circumstances and that is why over the past year we have increased our investment in security training and awareness for our community and our organization. We recognize that any plan to re-inhabit the community building at 360 Amity Road will bring with it security upgrades.
Until then, we continue to drill and educate, work closely with our law enforcement partners and our friends at ADL, with plans to convene professionals from across the state at our next FBI led training which will cover issues relating to active shooters and bomb threats at a training on April 24th at BEKI.
The Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council convened a special meeting on security with Senator Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Woodbridge First Selectman Ellen Scalletar and State Representative Themis Klarides in February. Since then the JCRC hosted a legislative breakfast at the State Capitol to continue to address the issues pertaining to security and security funding assistance with state officials.
Happily and ‘hoppity’, the JCC Day Camp will return to its home and campground on the campus at 360 Amity Road this summer. While we take pride in safety and security at camp, extra precautions will be taken this season. In addition to specialized training, security presence will be added to monitor and rove camp boundaries.
How You Can Help
We are often asked how to help during this challenging time. Our answer is both short and long term.
Remain an active and participatory member of the JCC—we may be spread out, but our quality staff and programs remain committed to enhancing your life each and every day.
Make your increased Jewish Federation Annual Campaign commitment and pay it before July 31st. We need a strong and vibrant Jewish Federation because, as our prescient tagline says, it’s always something…that’s why there’s Federation. (and don’t we know it!)
Spread the word to your friends and family that the Jewish community is here to stay and is working to be better than ever.
Get involved!! Volunteer to work on a committee. Bring your ideas to life.
Be ready to help when asked. Once this initial phase is over and the goals are set to take our community to the next level, your help will be needed. You will be asked for your time, your talent and your treasure. Say yes! Help others to say yes. Be a part of building our future.
Be ready to help if you aren’t asked. With a small staff and not enough volunteers, it could be that you are not asked directly. Consider yourself asked! Step up, step forward and be counted upon.
We look forward to an exciting future ahead and thank you for being a part of it.
Dr. Norman Ravski
Judy Alperin Diamondstein
(203) 387-2424 x231
JCC Executive Director
(203) 387-2424 x203