6/4/2020 – Joint Press Release Issued by Hardyston, Franklin and Hamburg
Hardyston, Franklin and Hamburg announce the closing of the Littell Community Center – The Littell Community Center located at Munsonhurst Road and the Joint Recreation Department will be closed effective June 30, 2020. The Littell Community Center has been a joint endeavor between Hardyston and Franklin since 1998, with Hamburg joining in 2013. The Littell Community Center, named in honor of the late State Senator and Franklin resident Senator Robert E. Littell has been an important part of the community and provided much needed service to the residents of our respective communities. The Littell Center has been a place to meet for all ages and provide space for seniors, youth sports, and non-profit organizations. Over the years, we have offered summer camps, movies, craft programs, exercise programs, and holiday celebrations. The decision to close the center is not due to budget constraints or a belief that the services provided by the center are no longer needed but rather the termination of a long-term lease agreement with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (DMVA) who own the building. The Township and Boroughs currently lease the building, a former armory, from DMVA for a modest annual rent based on a percentage of the space reserved for the community center and the annual operational and maintenance costs. The National Guard and the NJ Department of Labor have also utilized a portion of the building over the years. Over the last several years, as the building has continued to age and the building maintenance and repair costs increase, the State has listed the facility as surplus property and sought a potential buyer. The asking price for the building exceeded any financial consideration the Township or Boroughs would be able to consider. In January, the building was sold to a buyer at auction and the Township and Boroughs were notified that we would need to be prepared to vacate the building by June 30, 2020. We understand that this is a loss for the community and we have been actively working over the last several months to ensure that we can continue to meet the recreation needs of our residents. We are engaged in discussions with the schools, the Sussex County YMCA and local faith based organizations and believe that while it may look different than what was offered in the past we will be able to continue to serve the community. The COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly cut short our time at the Littell Center the last few months and we regret that we are unable to see through the closure under normal circumstances. The joint partnership over the years has been invaluable in providing recreational opportunities to our residents, while the loss of the Littell Center will surely be felt by our respective communities we will continue to work together to find opportunities for shared recreation endeavors and programs.