LOWER EAST SIDE — More than two decades after community activists began rallying for the restoration of a derelict storage facility in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, the city is kicking off work to restore the building's bathrooms for public use.
The department is launching the design phase of the refurbished bathrooms coming to the Stanton Street building — reps will pitch the plan at a Community Board 3 Parks Committee meeting on March 16, and plan to finalize the design by this fall, according to a Parks Department spokeswoman.
Construction is slated to begin fall 2018 and will wrap up about a year later, she added.
The building has sat largely unused since the 1980s aside from providing storage space for the Parks Department. The Sara D. Roosevelt Parks Coalition in 1994 began advocating for the building to be fixed up and returned to the community as a recreation center, beginning with the bathrooms, which community members have said are sorely needed in the park.
The park has one public restroom on Hester Street, near the southern end of the park, while a facility on Broome Street remains out of order due to a sewage problem. Repairs to the Broome Street building are in the procurement phase, a Parks spokeswoman said.
The department has been unresponsive to the community's demands for a community center in the building, stating the facility is needed for storage.
The president of the Sara D. Parks Coalition said the group is "thrilled" the plans for the much-needed restrooms are progressing, but will continue to advocate for the the restoration of the entire facility for community use.
"We love to share with all of NYC, but it’s really too big a burden for this neighborhood and narrow park to be asked to have almost all of our buildings resources devoted to out-of-neighborhood needs," said Kay Webster, adding some advocates are interested in using part of the space as a drop-in center open to the local homeless as well as a bike repair and solar-powering station.
Activists had previously floated the idea of converting the space into a youth center.