After a devastating fire in December, the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven plans to rebuild and reopen at its home on Amity Road in Woodbridge.
“This is place where people gather and they’ve missed that, and I’m really looking forward to seeing that come back,” Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven CEO Judy Alperin said.
Woodbridge Fire Department investigators determined the Dec. 5 fire that started in the sauna in the men’s locker room was accidental. Since then, the JCC had to move its recreation activities, programs and pre-school to other locations.
“We hemorrhaged quite a number of members and we’re hopeful that those people will return as soon as we can reconstruct their home away from home here,” Alperin said.
The JCC will spend more than $2 million from the insurance settlement to fix what the fire, smoke and water destroyed or damaged, Alperin said.
“Brand new basketball gym floors, new locker facilities, new flooring in our zumba studio and then our entire fitness center is going to be reworked and redesigned,” she said.
In the months since the fire, the Jewish community has discussed other possibilities outside of staying in the Woodbridge building.
“People felt very strongly about wanting the JCC to reopen,” Betty Levy of New Haven said.
Levy and her husband have been JCC members for more than forty years. They attended a forum in April about the facility’s future.
“I didn’t have any idea that so many people were involved and interested in the center and it wasn’t just Jewish people,” she said. “It was lots of people from our community.”
At the nearby Westville Kosher Market, the owners are eager to see the JCC reopen.
“It’s very good for the business,” Rachel Hamenachem said. “When they have an event we always get the spillover the people stop by they buy some stuff and we have events there.”
Part of the renovations will be to build a new pathway and entrance to the indoor pool, Alperin said. The pool and racquetball courts should open on June 19 and the JCC summer camp will begin as planned at the end of the month.
Alperin said a New Haven based architecture firm has been selected and the goal is for all for the construction to be finished in December.