No need to feel down! Coney Island YMCA gets itself off the ground

En garde: The lifeguard stands ready to save at the opening day of the Coney Island YMCA on Dec. 6.
Photo by Lori Birnbaum

They played through the pain, and now it’s time to feel the burn.

People’s Playground leaders cut the ribbon on a long-awaited YMCA community center and fitness facility on Dec. 6 — a building whose planned construction weathered disasters both natural and man-made.

“We survived two hurricanes and a recession, and we’re finally here,” said Paul Custer, senior vice president of government affairs for the Y.

The new facility features basketball courts, weight-lifting equipment, cardio machines, and two swimming pools. The YMCA said it plans to host fitness programs for Coney Islanders of all ages, as well as literacy classes, arts programming, and community meetings.

The Coney Island Y will open to the public on Dec. 16. Rates will be $48 a month for an adult, $38 a month for a senior, $125 a year for a child below the age of 11, $150 a year for teens aged 12–17. There are also package deals for families, and the YMCA vowed that it would offer scholarships to make membership affordable to familes of all income levels.

Jaw-dropping: The children’s pool features a fun slide and sprinklers.
Photo by Lori Birnbaum

“Nobody is ever turned away due to an inability to pay,” said spokeswoman Ellen Murphy.

Borough President Markowitz was on the scene, and praised the YMCA for offering health and leadership programming for youth in troubled and impoverished communities like Coney Island.

“Facilities like this are so important,” the Beep said. “They provide thousands of young Brooklynites with a safe, nurturing place to play and learn after school, and the guidance and sense of community they need to succeed in today’s world.”

One wall of the new building holds a time capsule containing — among other things — copies of the Brooklyn Courier and Bay News, preserving our brilliant prose and illuminating articles for generations yet to come.

The Coney Island establishment marks the seventh Y in Brooklyn, and the third to open in the last 10 years. The most recent one opened in the Park Slope Armory in 2010 — which did not struggle from the same setbacks as the Coney Y because it went into a pre-existing building. The People’s Playground center sits inside a new affordable-housing complex, the Coney Island Commons, at the corner of W. 29th Street and Surf Avenue.

Village people: Dozens of Brooklyn and Coney Island leaders turned out for the ribbon-cutting.
Photo by Lori Birnbaum

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at

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