2008-10-03 / Front Page

Another Life For Redfern Community Center

By Miriam Rosenberg

With its doors scheduled to be shuttered this week, and with members of the All-Stars Project picketing City Hall to keep it open, the Redfern Community Center was granted a last-minute reprieve on Monday, after funding was found to keep the center open, The Wave has learned.

State Senator Malcolm Smith cuts the ribbon officially reopening the Redfern Community Center on July 7 of this year after he obtained $80,000 to keep it running. The new allocation of $65,000 will keep the center from closing at the end of October. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg State Senator Malcolm Smith cuts the ribbon officially reopening the Redfern Community Center on July 7 of this year after he obtained $80,000 to keep it running. The new allocation of $65,000 will keep the center from closing at the end of October. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg On Tuesday, State Senator Malcolm Smith announced that he had identified $65,000 in public money to keep the vital community center, which serves many low-income teens and seniors, open.

"In this period of fiscal uncertainty, we must continue to work to ensure successful programs like Redfern continue to receive support," said Smith in a press release.

Selvena Brooks, a representative for Smith, elaborated by saying, "The money has been identified. It has not been transferred yet."

Howard Marder, a representative for the New York City Housing Authority, called the $65,000 "great news."

"NYCHA is really pleased that Senator Smith was able to come up with this additional funding," said Marder. "He sets an excellent example for his colleagues in Albany to keep community centers like Redfern open."

Considering how recently the allocation was made, Marder said, he can't project for how long the money will be able to keep the center open.

Brooks also said Smith will continue to look for more funding for the center.

"He's still looking at other venues and talking to other leaders," said Brooks.

Doris Jacobs, the president of the Redfern Tenant's Association, had not heard of the additional money as of Wednesday afternoon.

"They said it would be open until September 30," she said. "We had petitions and did a sit-in at City Hall on Monday and Tuesday. It [the closing] has been extended until the end of October."

The center closed temporarily in April when federal government funding difficulties put all NYCHA community centers across the city in danger of shutting down or merging with others because they were underutilized. It reopened at the end of June when Smith was able to allocate $80,000 to keep the center operating through September 30 of this year. The deadline for closing was then extended to October 30.

As reported in The Wave's June 27 issue, during his announcement of the $80,000 Smith said, "Following the devastating shooting of 15-year-old Brendon Bethea last month, community residents were extremely vocal of the lack of recreational options in the area due to the Redfern Community Center closing."

On July 7, Smith joined Redfern Houses residents and leaders that included State Assemblywoman Michele Titus, District Attorney Richard Brown, NYCHA chair Tino Hernandez, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer in officially reopening the center.

At that time Smith told residents, "I plan to continue working with my colleagues in government and local organizations to orchestrate a more long-term plan to ensure our youths have recreational options year-round."

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