2007-08-31 / Community

Sorrentino Cuts Ribbon On Refurbished Center

By Miriam Rosenberg

Victor Calise, Parks' Accessibility Coordinator; Lieutenant Gary Messina of the 101 Precinct; Edna Doyle, Robert Sorrentino's sister; and Richard Sorrentino, the late officer's nephew, at the reopening of the center. Victor Calise, Parks' Accessibility Coordinator; Lieutenant Gary Messina of the 101 Precinct; Edna Doyle, Robert Sorrentino's sister; and Richard Sorrentino, the late officer's nephew, at the reopening of the center. The ribbon was cut on the refurbished Sorrentino Recreation Center in Far Rockaway this week.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, along with Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Queens Commissioner of Parks Dorothy Lewandowski, joined in re-opening the center named for fallen Police Officer Robert Sorrentino of the 101 Precinct.

"We're here to celebrate a center that has been a haven for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy and to learn and play for decades," said Benepe at the August 28 event.

The center, which stayed open during the restoration, got a $1.4 million overhaul, with renovations that included fresh coats of paint, new windows, walls, and ventilation and lighting systems. In addition, the restrooms have become ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant and an ADAlift at the entrance of the building has also been installed.

"We need to find places to go and work out," said Councilman James Sanders Jr., who added Rockaway has the second-most obese population in Queens. "We need to find places to go and work out," said Councilman James Sanders Jr., who added Rockaway has the second-most obese population in Queens. "There is a new computer resource center with Internet access and redesigned game, arts and crafts and fitness rooms," continued the Commissioner.

Benepe also said a new aerobic program and an expanded After-School Program will debut, thanks to funding from New York Yankee Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.

Beginning in 2000, the foundation started to sponsor the Parks After- School Program at different locations citywide. Last year, the Turn 2 Foundation adopted The Sorrentino Recreation Center as its first site in Queens.

"The After-School Program will be doubling in size to 80 kids every day," said Benepe.

Abigail Lootens, a Parks spokesperson, elaborated on the advantages of having the Turn 2 Foundation, which promotes healthy lifestyles among young people, as a sponsor at Sorrentino.

"We are able to expand and enhance the program with teaching specialists in fitness, arts and education, as well as healthy snacks and field trips," said Lootens, in an e-mail to The Wave.

Curtissey Stevenson, 11, and Brigitte Mercado, 10, join Commissioner Adrian Benepe in leading guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Curtissey Stevenson, 11, and Brigitte Mercado, 10, join Commissioner Adrian Benepe in leading guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Sanders and Mayor Michael Bloomberg each allocated $700,000 toward the facility's improvements.

"We have the second-most obese population in Queens," said Sanders, who pointed out the availability of a weight room in the basement. "We need to find places to go and work out."

Family members of Sorrentino, his sister Edna Doyle and his nephew Richard Sorrentino, also attended the event. The officer was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 1980.

Entertainment was provided by the 2007 Double-Dutch World Champion Stan's Pepper Steppers and the Rockaway Peninsula Seniors choir.

Benepe called the Sorrentino Recreation Center "a haven for people of all ages…for decades." Benepe called the Sorrentino Recreation Center "a haven for people of all ages…for decades." Young people from the Safe Space program at PS 215 attend the reopening. Young people from the Safe Space program at PS 215 attend the reopening. Stan's Pepper Steppers, the recently crowned 2007 Double-Dutch World Champs, show off some of their winning moves for those in attendance. Stan's Pepper Steppers, the recently crowned 2007 Double-Dutch World Champs, show off some of their winning moves for those in attendance. The Rockaway Peninsula Seniors lead a sing-along with "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands." The Rockaway Peninsula Seniors lead a sing-along with "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands." Among those getting ready to cut the ribbon on the renovated center are Doyle, Sorrentino, Queens Commissioner of Parks Dorothy Lewandowski, Sanders, Benepe, and children from the Safe Space program at PS 215. Among those getting ready to cut the ribbon on the renovated center are Doyle, Sorrentino, Queens Commissioner of Parks Dorothy Lewandowski, Sanders, Benepe, and children from the Safe Space program at PS 215.

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