Senior center destroyed by Sandy to reopen in Red Hook

Senior center destroyed by Sandy to reopen in Red Hook
Photo by Erin Lefevre

It’s a new chapter for this old center!

Red Hook residents and local leaders on Dec. 15 snipped the ribbon to celebrate the long-awaited opening of the neighborhood’s W. Ninth Street senior center, giving oldsters a new space to mingle after its predecessor was destroyed by superstorm Sandy more than five years ago, according to the tenant association president at public-housing complex Red Hook East Houses.

“I’m looking forward to the new things that come into that senior center,” said Frances Brown. “It is a new beginning.”

But Red Hook’s oldsters won’t officially be able to pick up a game of bingo or mahjong, sweat it out during exercise classes, or feast on a meal — programs provided through the city’s Department of Aging — until early next year, Mayor DeBlasio announced during a town hall for the district on Dec. 14.

“It’s beautiful, and will be open for good in January, so we’re really excited about that,” Hizzoner said during the meeting with Councilman Carlos Menchaca’s (D–Red Hook) constituents.

Thumbs up!: Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Mayor DeBlasio chat with constituents during Thursday night’s Town Hall, when they announced the long-awaited opening of the Red Hook senior center.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

The devastating 2012 storm ripped through the seniors’ previous digs in the basement of a Wolcott Street building, forcing them to congregate, chat, and play games in a nearby community center’s ground floor instead.

The New York City Housing Authority sought out the new place near Clinton Street — a shuttered day-care center — for the oldsters, and started revamping it with $5.7 million in combined federal and city cash, which paid for an entirely new heating and cooling system, kitchen, and gussied-up bathrooms, according to a spokeswoman for the city agency, who couldn’t confirm the exact day next month the center will officially welcome elders.

Construction was supposed to wrap on the center back in 2015, but the city hit several roadblocks that resulted in more than two-years’ worth of delays, causing much frustration in the community, according to Menchaca’s office.

But faced with adversity, the neighborhood came together, and now gets to celebrate the fresh space, the housing authority’s head honcho said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Five years ago, superstorm Sandy devastated this community, but we responded by coming together to rebuild stronger,” said Shola Olatoye. “Today, I am delighted to stand with residents and electeds to open the new Red Hook Community Center, which will soon become a cornerstone for public-housing residents.”

Talking housing: New York City Housing Authority’s chairwoman Shola Olatoye answers a question about Red Hook’s public housing complex.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.