“We are here today to make good on a promise that the town created to residents at Gowanus and Wyckoff years ago,” Levin said in a Thursday news conference in front of the community centre.
“There used to be actual life in this area,” said Scott, who has lived at the Gowanus Houses for more than 40 decades. “It is going to have a lot–it’s going to take a hell of a good deal –to bring this place back to what it used to be, but if the center is there it can be done.”
“Community centers are one of the backbones of our communities and our neighborhoods,” Johnson said. “We want them for after school programs, for seniors to collect, for socializing, and for a lot more”
NYCHA is tackling the renovations in the Wyckoff Gardens facility, which the agency says it hopes to begin designing in September, however, the town’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will handle construction in the Gowanus space. DDC did not immediately return requests for comment on the project’s timeline.
Still, the space stayed closed and the funds unused because funding dollars can only be spent on physical infrastructure. At the moment, the town said a host organization that would help finance the centre’s applications once it reopened required to be secured prior to building could move forward, a job the Department of Youth and Community Development can do to NYCHA complexes. Years went by and the center remained closed and prices climbed to reestablish the site, although the agency said it searched for a provider.
“We’ve heard about announcements of funding in the past–at least three times previously. What we are looking for today are start dates,” stated SJ Avery with all the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition. “We will need to understand when, where, and how. That is the next step”
Right now, cheap housing group that the Fifth Avenue Committee is footing the bill for insurance as well as other costs to temporarily keep the Gowanus Houses facility open. The City Council has dedicated $50,000 from the budget to offer programming prior to renovations are underway.
In Thursday’s press conference, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson stressed the importance of keeping NYCHA centers as hubs of neighborhood action, and as distances of shelter during emergencies and recalled growing up in public housing in Massachusetts.
Subsequently in 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio roused expects when he announced at a town hall the city was committed to allocating funds for programming. Now, the center is set to undergo a $4.5 million renovation due to $947,000 in financing secured by the City Council and another $3.5 million committed by NYCHA.
Back in its heyday, the Gowanus centre formerly showcased a wall lined with mirrors where young girls would take dancing lessons and put on displays for renters; a neighboring, now-shuttered area was decked out with pool tables in which men would often gather; and the kitchen was flush with snacks, remembered Marguerite Scott, who served as the president of the Gowanus Houses Resident Association from the 1970s.
The town shuttered the area 14 years ago, but residents advocated to reopen, and towards renovating the center councilmember Stephen Levin spent $475,000 in budgeting.
Rep tape stymied pervious Tries to renovate and reopen the center
A community center at the nearby Wyckoff Gardens Houses at Boerum Hill is also getting an overhaul, with $2.5 million kicked from the Council in this year’s funding paired with $2.4 million which was previously allocated. The funds for the two projects are a long time coming, said Levin.
The City Council has kicked nearly one million dollars to reopen the long-shuttered community center at the Gowanus Houses NYCHA complicated –but residents are weary of the shortage of timeline to permanently open the center’s doors after prior faking hit bureaucratic snags.