Jan. 23, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A group of Hunters Point-based organizations are demanding that a recreation center be built in Long Island City, an area they say desperately needs a dedicated recreational space as more developments take up the few available spaces left in the neighborhood.
The push is led by the Hunters Point Civic Association (HPCA), which posted a Change.org petition on Jan. 18 directed at the NYC Economic Development Corporation. The petition points to a steadily overcrowding Hunters Point neighborhood with no existing place for year-round organized physical activities.
The health benefits of exercise for the community, especially for the youth, are also listed as reasons for a recreation center, along with alarming statistics on the lack of physical activity in public schools, where many would assume the need for recreational time is fulfilled.
“This has been a concern of the neighborhood for a long time,” said Brent O’Leary, president of the HPCA. “With these huge pieces of land being developed and taken out of circulation, we feel that if one isn’t put in now, all of the space for a recreation center will be gone.”
O’Leary specifically demands that a recreational center be included and approved for any new development in Hunters Point, and singles out the recent Anable Basin rezoning proposal and the EDC/TF Cornerstone development on 44th Drive.
“As these developments are asking for a variance and rezoning to add more density and people, they should have a responsibility to alleviate that burden,” O’Leary said.
The HPCA president emphasized that a recreation center provides several opportunities that a park, like the soon-to-be 10-acre Hunters Point South park, does not.
“The park is already overflowed, and in the winter you can’t use it,” O’Leary said. “In the summer, it’s full of tourists.” He added that the park does not permit for organized team activities, which is why several groups like LIC Volleyball, the Long Island City Soccer Club, and LIC Recreation back the push for a recreation center.
A pool, space for organized teams to play, a fitness center, and a community space are among the basic features O’Leary envisions in a recreation center for the neighborhood. The ultimate goal, however, is for a space similar to Asphalt Green, which recently opened a 52,000 square-foot community center in Battery Park City that cost $55 million to build.
The petition has hit over 200 signatures since going live five days ago.
O’Leary says he has reached out to TF Cornerstone, the EDC, and Plaxall about bringing a recreation center within their upcoming projects and proposals.
“We’ve heard from a number of local stakeholders about the need for a recreation center in LIC,” a spokesperson for Plaxall said. “We appreciate the constructive feedback and look forward to continuing to hear from neighbors as we refine our plans.”
TF Cornerstone did not respond to requests for comment, and the EDC said they will not be providing comment at this time.