Funds cut from NYPD budget to pay for new community center in Flatbush

Nostrand Playground, where the center will be built.
NYC Parks

City officials announced plans for a new community center in the heart of Flatbush on July 27, which will be built with funds reallocated from the NYPD budget.

The center, which will be named after barrier-breaking Brooklyn Senator Shirley Chisholm, will be erected at the Nostrand Playground on Foster Avenue between Nostrand and New York avenues, where local leaders hope it will help present local youth with constructive ways to spend their free time. 

“We need to protect our children from the risk posed by unstructured free time,” Assemblywoman Rodneyese Bichotte said during a press briefing at City Hall. “This is more important now, in the face of the pandemic and growing racial disparities, than ever.” 

The Shirley Chisholm Community Center will contain the neighborhood’s first ever indoor pool, an indoor running track, a kitchen for cooking classes, and a business and tech incubation center named for the late founder of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Roy Hastick.

The center’s announcement comes on the heels of increased gun violence in central Brooklyn, which led the city to form the Brooklyn Violence Prevention Plan, and the Bed-Stuy Anti-Gun Violence task force.

The 67th precinct, where the new center will be located, has had more than double the amount of shootings in 2020 compared to the same time last year, city data shows.

“This is how we occupy our blocks and our corners,” said Councilwoman Farah Louis, who represents the area. “This is how we’re going to stop shootings and save lives.”

The center will be paid for with some of the funds taken from the Police Department’s budget in the wake of anti-police brutality protests sweeping the city. While some advocates condemned the latest city budget for not shifting enough meaningful resources away from the Department, city officials maintain that what was reallocated has gone to pay for cooling centers in public housing buildings and community projects such as this. 

“This is about priorities,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. “This is an example of resources we took from the NYPD budget and are putting into young people, reprogramming our resources to help young people, to put them on the right path, to stop problems before they begin.” 

The community center, which de Blasio said locals will have a chance to weigh in on come autumn, will be built alongside two large affordable housing developments in the neighborhood, which will also feature community resources.