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At the Armory, wait ‘til next year

The Brooklyn Paper
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Sorry, sports fans, but the long-delayed, torturous redevelopment of the Park Slope Armory into a community and local school recreation center is delayed again.

Despite what other media are reporting, the recreation center, whose $16-million renovation was finished nearly two years ago, is not likely to meet its most-recent target opening date this month.

At a meeting last week, representatives of the Department of Homeless Services, which operates the building, said that the center only needs a sign-off by the Fire and Buildings departments before the Prospect Park YMCA can begin running recreation programs inside the former 14th Regiment armory.

But despite relentless questioning from members of Community Board 6, the officials refused to actually set a date.

“They can’t even give us a ballpark figure,” said Nica Lalli, CB6’s Parks Committee chairwoman. “They can not give us anything that will satisfy our need to know. We asked it 15 ways, but they did not budge and give us a date.”

On Monday, the homeless agency, which has site control because it operates a woman’s shelter in the building, told The Brooklyn Paper in a statement that the opening is “imminent.”

The agency’s commissioner, Robert Hess, explained the seemingly endless delays on the condition of the 106-year-old building.

“While this space was antiquated and took time to integrate systems, it is now truly state of the art,” he said. “I believe you will see that the final product was worth the wait.”

Hess was a bit quick with that “was.”

The delays continue, despite promises that the center would be open in May, then by the opening day of school this year.

The responsibility for the delay belongs entirely to the city, which first failed to meet its original renovation deadline two years ago. Then, the city designated the YMCA to operate the facility in May, 2008, but did not even finish inking the deal until December of that year.

Even if the turnover of the building to the YMCA is “imminent,” it will take the Y six to eight weeks to complete its own work inside the facility, said Executive Director Sean Andrews.

But Andrews said that some recreation programs for elementary and middle school children — the main reason for the renovation of the building in the first place — will begin immediately once he has the keys in hand.

“The drill floor will be available for the students right away,” he said, though he said community space and exercise facilities won’t likely be in place until the new year.

Either way, Hess was confident that all would be forgotten once the public gets inside that building.

“We will be turning over a beautiful and safe facility for the children and adults of Park Slope,” he said in a statement. “[It] will become a hub of the community.”

Perhaps, but the multi-year process leaves Lalli wanting more.

“When it opens, it will be fantastic,” she said. “But it is an outrage that this whole process was designed to eliminate any public input. As a result, no one has been accountable to anyone.”

Updated 3:00 pm, October 5, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Ezra from Midwood says:
Park Slopers can never be satisfied! You complain about everything. You live next to the gigantic Prospect Park, but complain you don't have indoor running facilities.

With all the grief you've given Atlantic Yards, you think the inspectors are going to be running to clear this project just to satisfy you? We all know you Park Slopers cannot be satisfied. No matter what the inspectors do, Park Slopers will find something to complain about now or later. God forbid, any inspector signs off on this building and an accident happens down the road. His career would be over even if he did nothing wrong!

You Park Slopers are nothing more than a complaining, whining mob. You think Park Slope is the center of the world and everyone should bow to you. Park Slope is such a headache! Who goes there anymore?

Atlantic Yards should be fully constructed and making a profit before the Armory opens.
Nov. 7, 2009, 1:02 pm
Stryker007 from harlem says:
i stayed in so called hell for six years i first went to that place of 2003 they seemed like they wanted to help they took my phone in 2005 i went to the director in the shelter he said would let. me know tomorrow it takes them for more then 2 day in advance the caseworker i had for the last 5yrs then the dhs police some them did do anything after 6yrs of hell the way i was treated at that shelter i wish would have called the city that was in 04' that was when i stayed in that place i left out in 2007 i have waited in that shelter for six years in places don't understand i called coalition for the homeless of nyc i just don't know how to call for lawer it was hard time.s
Jan. 21, 2015, 1:59 am

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