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Stuyvesant HS Community Center Saved From Closing

By Irene Plagianos | November 26, 2013 10:03am
 A longtime community center in Stuyvesant High School has been saved from closing, the Battery Park City Authority said.
A longtime community center in Stuyvesant High School has been saved from closing, the Battery Park City Authority said.
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BATTERY PARK CITY — The longtime community center in Stuyvesant High School will remain open, after the Battery Park City Authority tabled its controversial plan to shut it down, officials announced Monday.

The authority had planned to close the center, which lets the public use Stuyvesant High's athletic facilities when school is not in session, on Dec. 20 — much to the outrage of residents and officials — but the authority agreed to keep it open while they work with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office to find a new operator for the facility.

“The BPCA understands the importance of affordable community space for people of all income levels, and it is clear there is a need for this facility to continue operating,” BPCA chairman Dennis Mehiel said in a statement. “I look forward to having Speaker Silver’s assistance in fostering a productive dialogue, as we establish a long-term solution to keep the center operating and affordable for local residents.”

The BPCA had previously said they were shutting the gym space because it's losing $200,000 per year and has only roughly 300 members.

However, residents and elected officials — including Silver — contended that the Battery Park City Authority didn’t have the right to close the Stuyvesant High School center, because the authority has an "ironclad" agreement with the city to keep it open under a 1987 deal that let the city open the high school in the first place.

The BPCA had said they disagreed with that interpretation, and said they were putting millions of dollars into the neighboring Asphalt Green community center — which opened two blocks away in June and charges more than four times as much for an adult membership as the Stuyvesant center.

But on Monday, the BPCA said they would work with Silver to form a committee that would "select an operator and develop funding sources" for the more affordable Stuyvesant center, as they keep the center open.

The BPCA did not immediately respond to questions about what type of operator would be selected and how much funding will be needed to keep the center afloat. 

"I am thrilled to work with Chairman Mehiel and the BPCA to find a solution which will allow this vital community resource to remain open as a public amenity," SIlver said in a statement. "Downtown residents are in great need of recreational space and the Stuyvesant High School Community Center has served our community well for 20 years."