Elected officials and community leaders broke ground on a new state-of-the-art recreation center at the Nostrand Playground in East Flatbush on Monday.
Mayor Eric Adams, Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, state Sen. Kevin S. Parker, Council Member Farah N. Louis and more attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the $141 million Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center — named after the legendary American politician who became the first African American woman in Congress.
“With this tremendous investment in central Brooklyn, this administration is bringing state-of-the-art recreational amenities to a community that was neglected for so many generations,” said parks department commissioner Sue Donoghue at the event. “This is a historic moment and it’s truly fitting that this space will bear the name of Shirley Chisholm when it opens in 2025. Shirley Chisholm was an icon of New York City and she also believed that all New Yorkers, regardless of race, gender, income or zip code deserve to be full participants in the political, economic and cultural life of our city.”
The recreation center project is nearly two years in the making and is currently ahead of schedule, according to Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, with construction expected to wrap up in 2025.
“For everybody’s information, generally, it takes us almost three years to get through design,” Joshi said during the press conference on Monday. “We’re done. We’re building already.”
The Foster Avenue rec center will feature numerous amenities including an indoor pool, a public plaza, a teaching kitchen, a media lab, green roof and more — and was made possible through collaboration between elected officials and community leaders, who lobbied to build the expansive new center as part of a holistic approach to serve young people and reduce violence within the neighborhood.
“Our parks enforcement patrol, law enforcement throughout the city has been so important to keeping our cities safe with overall crime continuing to trend down,” said Donoghue. “But protecting our communities also means creating lively, well-maintained neighborhood spaces that are accessible to all that need them by strengthening the bonds among neighbors and giving young people a place to have fun.”
Bichotte Hermelyn, who serves as chair for the Assembly’s Subcommittee on Oversight Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise, also said that the new recreation center will be integral in creating more job opportunities.
“It was important for me to make sure that there was equity, that we had job creations that this community was gonna participate in,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “Not only as residents, but people who can actually build, help and earn and then maybe become an entrepreneur and be contractors to this great city. And the Chisholm Recreation Center will be a pillar for our community.”
Adams took note that as the center is named after Chisholm, an indisputable force and trailblazer in New York and American politics, the work done to actually get the project started was done by the African American and Caribbean American women in office today – including Louis and Bichotte Hermelyn.
“You know really, the continuation and the passing of the baton I think is extremely significant for us to acknowledge the fact that Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman from this city to be a congress person,” said Adams. “And now we have women of Caribbean descent who are now not only running this community, but they are in very significant positions of power.”
Adams also acknowledged that this project is just the beginning of what his administration and its partners hope to accomplish to make neighborhoods across the city safer and more vibrant.
“It’s not going to solve all the problems that we’re facing – there are so many – but it is one of the rivers that we must dam that continue to feed the sea of violence, the sea of uncertainty, of the sea of lack of access.” Adams said. “We cannot do it if we don’t put all of our energy together and the intersectionality of that focus energy of making this project go from dream to reality.”