2007-06-08 / Front Page

Is NYCHA Planning On Closing Centers?

By Howard Schwach

On Wednesday, City Councilman James Sanders called a Town Hall Meeting to address what he termed "Adecision by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to close all of the community centers" associated with the city housing complexes on the peninsula.

In a prepared statement, Sanders said, "I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that our community centers remain open. There's an old saying, 'if you burn the house, can you conceal the smoke?' What are our youth supposed to do if these closings take place during the hot summer? Where do our seniors go to enjoy themselves? Where are we supposed to hold our community events if there are no community centers? I find it absurd that such a proposal even exists that would put our youth out on the streets and keep our seniors locked into their apartments."

Sanders said that the meeting to begin the fight to keep the centers open would take place at PS 105, located at 420 Beach 51 Street in Arverne, on Tuesday, June 12, at 7 p.m.

The centers that Sanders says will be closed in the coming cuts are the Redfern Community Centers, the Beach 41 Street Community Center, the Ocean Bay Community Center and the Hammels Community Center.

A spokesperson for the NYCHA says that it's too early to get excited and begin fighting against closings that have not even been planned for.

"Last week, the New York City Housing Authority approved a budget," says Howard Marder, the agency's public information officer. "The agency is conducting a review of all of its community centers and social service programs as part of an exercise to deal with a $51 million gap that remains in the budget. No decisions have been made regarding closing any centers or eliminating any social service programs. As part of the process, NYCHA is reviewing possible duplication of services in a particular neighborhood; proximity of community centers; a look at the utilization rates of those centers; and their effectiveness in serving the community."

Despite the agency's disclaimer, however, Sanders intends to hold his meeting.

"I call on the community to fight with me to keep our centers open," Sanders said, urging anybody who would be impacted by the closings to join him at PS 105 on Tuesday night.

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