Community hub snub! Cuomo vetoes bill to save W’burg senior center from eviction

Bill to save Williamsburg senior center passes Assembly
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Gov. Cuomo has turned his back on Williamsburg families and seniors by scuttling a bill that would allow the state to save a beloved neighborhood senior center and daycare from eviction, say local pols.

“The governor may not be concerned about the seniors, the children at the daycare, or that this building houses the heart of the community, but my constituents and I most certainly are,” said State Sen. Martin Dilan (D–Bushwick), who sponsored the bill along with Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg).

The Swinging Sixties Senior Center and Small World Day Care at the corner of Ainslie Street and Manhattan Avenue has been in danger of losing its home of 41 years since new landlords purchased the property in late 2003 then promptly jacked up the rent before serving their new tenants with eviction papers on Christmas Eve.

The legislature in June passed a bill that would give the state the power to seize the building via eminent domain, but Cuomo nixed the proposal on Thursday, arguing it didn’t provide enough protections for the landlord.

But the lawmakers say it is the locals who use the community hub who got the raw deal.

“The Governor’s primary objection to my bill is that it doesn’t provide enough due process and safeguards for the landlord,” said Lentol. “To which I say: Where was due process for seniors and families when this public building was illicitly turned over to private ownership and then sold to developers?”

The center is still fighting the eviction in court, where it is arguing that the sale of the building was illegitimate because the city and community groups that run the facility should have been given first dibs on buying the property, but the politicians were hoping to pass the bill as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the landlords.

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrow[email protected]local.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her on Twitter @rbbrown.