Bay View Community Center expected to open finally this spring

In 2006, the new Bay View Houses community center was 75 percent complete, and was expected to open in the early part of 2007.

Fast-forward three years. The center, now virtually complete, is still unused, still awaiting a certificate of occupancy from the city’s Department of Buildings, and local residents are still waiting for the long-anticipated facility to welcome them in.

“It’s been too long. There were delays that didn’t have to be,” contended Sylvia Whiteside, the president of the Bay View Tenants Association.

The level of expectation is high. The design of the 20,000-square-foot center, which is located off Shore Parkway, east of Rockaway Parkway, was firmly rooted in the needs of the community that will use it, featuring a gymnasium, classrooms and a full kitchen that are expected to provide a wealth of learning and recreational opportunities for residents of Bay View and the Canarsie community in general.

In addition, it is urgently needed. The lack of a facility to accommodate neighborhood youth in the eastern part of the neighborhood is a major gap, said Melba Brown, the Democratic district leader in the 58th A.D.

An increase in the number of teens and adolescents in the area, she told this paper, has not been accompanied by a concurrent increase in services for the youngsters. As a result, Brown said, kids with nothing better to do, “hang out, where there’s no supervision.” This has led to another issue: “Seniors no longer feel safe and enjoy their property,” Brown contended.

Once the center opens, it can begin to meet that need, as the site of a youth program that is part of the city’s Cornerstone Initiative, funded through the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).

The program will be operated by Bergen Beach-based Millennium Development,which now operates it “with a limited budget,” according to Millennium Director Paul Curiale, from Bay View’s existing small community center.

While the wait has been protracted, the Bay View community center should be open shortly, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which runs Bay View.

“NYCHA plans to complete this community center in the near future, pending regulatory approval,” noted NYCHA Communications Officer Sheila Stainback, in an email message. “Among the reasons for the delay were the default of the general contractor; change orders that significantly increased the scope of work; and delayed regulatory approvals.”

Whiteside concurred, noting that, as of now, the center was “an inch or two away” from opening. “Hopefully,” she added, “very shortly we will be planning a gala opening.”

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