A supportive group home for adults with autism and other disabilities called "New Beginnings at Joey's Place LLC" says it will open in July on King's Highway in Middletown.
New Beginnings at Joey's Place is planned for a former daycare canter adjacent to Town Hall. The 7,800-square foot building at 18 King's Highway dates back to 1820, was most recently known as Red Oak Village School and the Little Village Day Care Center, but has not been occupied in recent years. It was recently put up at auction.
Angela DiTaranto of Tinton Falls, who is going to run the venture, said it "has no relationship with the purchasing party" of 18 King's Highway, but declined to comment further. Her 22-year old son, Joey, is the namesake and inspiration behind the center.
On Monday, the township's business administrator and zoning officer said they have not been contacted by the people behind Joey's Place. A certificate of occupancy will be necessary before a new business can open in the location, a process that usually takes about 2-3 weeks if there are no significant issues to address, such the aging building's condition, fire safety concerns, or other issues.
The center is accepting applications from men and women aged 21 and over with autism for adult day programs, summer camp, Saturday and Sunday programs and respite weekends, according to newbeginningsatjoeysplace.com. There are plans to offer a limited number of spots to residents, but the majority of the participants will arrive for the daytime.
Joey's Place will offer "six meaningful activities per day," as well as an evening social, for the unique people it serves, according to the website.
The main building will include an oversized activity room, a headed aquatic center, media lounge and library, communal dining room, working kitchen for real-life learning, vocational workshop, sensory lounge and exercise room, according to its website.
There are plans to offer exercise, yoga and art clubs to encourage socialization and self-expression. There will be an outdoor basketball court, TriActive outdoor exercise equipment, swing area and gardening.
Outings to parks, shopping and theaters will also be incorporated into the program, as well as pet therapy sessions.
The participants will be available to volunteer in the community and are seeking opportunities, said Day Service Supervisor Beverly Slocum of Spring Lake Heights.
She said the center hopes to open with 15 participants, three of them residents."We're just getting it off the ground, and we are all excited about it. There is a lot of work to be done, fun to be had, new people to meet."