BELLEVILLE, N.J. (April 21, 2007) -- Disabled American Veterans will soon
have a new local building where they can learn about benefits and follow up
on their special needs.
Members of DAV Chapter 22, serving 312 members in Belleville and
broke ground for a new building on Mill Street on Saturday morning.
"The township has been very helpful," said DAV spokesman Joseph T.
Fornarotto. The project, four years in the making, received full cooperation
from Belleville council members, he said.
The invocation and prayer was led by Rev. Mark A. O'Connell of
St. Peter Roman Catholic Church,
Congressman William Pascrell Jr.
(D-8th) joined Fornarotto as the pair donned gold-painted hardhats and
pitched the first shovelfuls of soil.
World War II Paratrooper
William Falduti of Nutley was on hand to support the building project.
Also on hand for the ceremony were Belleville Councilman Steve Rovell,
Nutley Commissioners Carmen Orechio and Tom Evans, and former Nutley Mayor
and Commissioner John V. Kelly.
Pointing to the Belleville Senior Citizens building down the hill on Mill
Street, Fornarotto reminded the crowd that building was built for $90,000 by
veterans who volunteered their skills. He called on veterans again, calling
for construction workers, laborers, masons, electricians and carpenters to
step forward and make this new building a reality.
Fornarotto said the DAV chapter would soon add in members from Kearny and
increase its ranks to more than 500 members.
When the DAV building is not being used for veterans, Fornarotto said it
would be available for local civic and service groups.
Fornarotto said construction would begin after the final permits are okayed.
The patch of town property on Mill Street is set between an apartment
building and the Second River.
Local permits are set, however the group needs a state okay and soil permits
because of its proximity to the river which flows through Belleville Park
and Branch Brook Park along Mill Street.
Local architect Robert Cozzarelli drew up the plans for the building.
The former headquarters on Washington Avenue was sold after becoming too
cumbersome for the disabled members.
Former Belleville Mayor and Councilman James Messina, now of the Belleville
Public Works Dept. worked up the estimates on building materials that need
to be ordered for the building.
"We're ready to dig," Messina said, pointing to the back hoe behind the rows
of people gathered for the ceremony.
Messina, who grew up a few blocks from the site, recalled as a kid rafting
in the Second River from behind the former Red Yeast factory to the concrete
dam that had been located alongside new building site.
The dam was removed years ago to relieve flooding upriver in Bloomfield. As
it runs through the park, the Second River has steep concrete walls which
tend to fill to the brim when the rains and winter runoff run heavy.
The Belleville-Nutley DAV Chapter 22 established the
on Union Avenue in Belleville.
Fornarotta, a Navy Machinist Mate 3rd Class, quit Essex County Vocational
School to fight in World War II. In November 2000, Governor Christie Whitman
awarded high school diplomas through the
"Operation Recognition" program to Fornarotto and more than 80 New Jersey World War
II veterans at a graduation ceremony at the War Memorial in Trenton.
Copyright © 2007 Anthony Buccino. All rights reserved.
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