Downtown Residents Demand Answers on Delayed Asphalt Green Community Center

By Julie Shapiro on July 31, 2012 4:37pm 

BATTERY PARK CITY — Erika Teresko is tired of waiting for the long-delayed Asphalt Green community center in Battery Park City to open its doors.

The $55 million facility — which will feature two pools, a full-court basketball gym and a theater — was supposed to open last November, the same month Teresko, a TriBeCa mother of two, paid a $299 initiation fee to secure a charter membership for her family.

Since then, Teresko and other residents have regularly peered through the locked doors of the community center at 212 N. End Ave., wondering, with increasing frustration, what is going on.

"I don't understand the delays," Teresko said. "You look in there and you see water in the pool, you see the beautiful gym…. There needs to be an explanation of why the delays are happening."

Teresko started an online petition last Friday demanding answers from the Battery Park City Authority, which is building the 52,000-square-foot facility. The petition has already gathered more than 225 signatures, many accompanied by angry comments.

"Members of the community were counting on this facility and we paid for it almost a year ago," wrote Lori Blinder Barr, one of the people who signed the petition. "We feel ignored and disrespected."

Teresko sent the petition the Battery Park City Authority's president and board members on Monday, but she has not heard back. The delays at the community center were not mentioned during the BPCA's public board meeting Tuesday morning.

Matthew Monahan, a spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority, said the agency was still waiting for fire safety, occupancy and other permits from the city, so he could not give a projected opening date.

"We're at the final phase of approvals, permits and certificates," Monahan said. "It's nearing completion…. We hope to know more soon."

Back in January, Gayle Horwitz, the BPCA's president, called the permitting delays "incredibly frustrating."

Asphalt Green did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

In June, a spokeswoman for the Upper East Side fitness nonprofit said in a statement, "We do not have any indication from the Battery Park City Authority as to when the facility will open."

Under a signed agreement between Asphalt Green and the Battery Park City Authority, obtained by DNAinfo.com New York, the BPCA has until Jan. 1, 2014 to open the center.

Asphalt Green had hoped to run a summer camp at the center this year but was forced to cancel it at the last minute after learning that the facility would not be ready in time.

More than 60 children, including Teresko's 6-year-old daughter, had signed up for the camp and had to scramble to find an alternate summer plan.

Teresko recently called Asphalt Green and asked if she could sign her daughter up for swim lessons this fall, but she was told the center might not be ready then, either.

"We're really excited to have this facility in the neighborhood," Teresko said. "We just want it to open."

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