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A construction worker is dwarfed by the massive machinery and timber piles at the community center site.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

The contractor building Sea Isle City’s $21 million community recreation center is wrapping up a major phase of construction this week.

Ernest Bock & Sons Inc. is on track to install the last of more than 500 massive timber piles that will serve as the building’s foundation, Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.

“I’m pleased to report that the contractor will complete installation of all foundation piling this week, which includes over 500 timber piles. This will be followed by concrete foundation work; and later this summer into the fall, we’ll see the building’s steel superstructure take shape,” Desiderio said in a statement Tuesday while updating City Council on the project.

Heavy construction equipment is used to drive the long piles into the ground. The work is noisy and can sometimes be heard blocks away from the construction site.

Desiderio thanked the residents of the surrounding neighborhood for their “patience and understanding as we work to complete this facility, which will ultimately serve all of Sea Isle City.”

In May, Desiderio and other officials held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction following about five years of planning, designing and community discussions for the project.

Completion is scheduled for the fall of 2025.

Altogether, more than 500 timber piles are being driven into the ground to serve as the community center’s foundation.

The community center went through a number of iterations before the final concept was created. The design reflects the facility’s dual role as a community center and recreation facility.

There will be a large gymnasium, indoor walkway and workout space for recreation. The building will also include space that local community groups may use for meetings, events and other activities.

The community center will also include a covered parking area underneath the building at street level that will have 40 spaces. An elevator will connect the parking garage to the main building.

One amenity that the community center will not have is a swimming pool. During a 2019 referendum, local property owners voted overwhelmingly against including an indoor pool in the community center. The fear at that time was that a pool would make the project much more expensive for Sea Isle taxpayers.

Architectural renderings of the community center show a two-story building featuring a glossy facade overlooking Central Avenue. Sea Isle officials say the building will include attractive architecture to blend in with the rest of the neighborhood.

To make room for construction of the community center, the city demolished the old Sea Isle City Public School at 4501 Park Road last year. The community center will occupy the same footprint of the old school on the block bordered by Park Road, Central Avenue, 45th Street and 46th Street.

A sign on the construction site gives a sneak preview of what the building will look like when completed in 2025.

The contractor, family-owned Bock & Sons, has built a diversified portfolio of more than $3 billion worth of public and private projects in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic region during its 75-year history.

Some of its notable projects include the $100 million Camden High School, the $40 million Atlantic County criminal courthouse complex in Mays Landing, a $233 million addition to the Montgomery County Justice Center in Norristown, Pa., and a $100 million, 10-story luxury condominium in Philadelphia.

Bock & Sons also built the 227-foot-tall Ferris wheel-like attraction at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City and the Philadelphia Flyers practice facility in Voorhees, N.J.