Stanton St. park building to get community use

The Parks Department has committed to stop using the Stanton St. building in Sara D. Roosevelt Park as a storage facility, the first step in restoring it to community use. Villager file photo

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Lower East Side park activists embraced a small victory at a Community Board 3 Parks Committee meeting last Thursday.

Bill Castro, the Manhattan borough Parks Department commissioner, told Downtown politicians that Parks is working with city agencies to relocate staff and storage from the Stanton St. building in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, according to Gigi Li, Councilmember Margaret Chin’s deputy chief of staff.

The Stanton building shuttered decades ago. Since reopening it, Parks has used the building for staff, storage space and other department needs.

Lower East Side community activists have fought for years to restore the Stanton St. building as a community center after Parks first promised to do so in 1998, or — after Hurricane Sandy — as a resiliency space.

“We officially got a commitment from the Manhattan borough Parks commissioner that a green light was given for the two powers that be to move forward to returning the park to the community,” Li told the C.B. 3 Parks, Recreation, Waterfront and Resiliency Committee meeting on Thurs., Nov. 15.

The “two powers” now looped in on the project are the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which assist departments with setting aside money to buy or lease a space to relocate, according to Li.

“We’re really happy,” said Kathleen Webster, president of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition. “This commissioner [Castro] made the decision to really try to move it forward with the electeds.”

The run-down-looking building is basically used as a supply house, Webster said. Park vehicles drive through the park frequently, and as a result, some individuals even think they can park inside the park. The building having been removed from recreational and park-related uses only makes that part of the park more prone to violent crime, Webster stated, referring to a fatal stabbing there in August.

“It’s been pretty bad,” she said. “I think everybody knows that the derelict look of the building is not workable anymore.”

Though it’s unclear what the timeline will be and how the building would be used, Webster hopes the structure can be made into an active recreation community center.

“We definitely want things in there like ping-pong balls, so people can actually use that damn table that nobody goes near now,” Webster said, referencing a ping-pong table in the building.

Li, a former C.B. 3 chairperson who joined Chin’s staff in April, added that the councilmember’s office is advocating for outdoor programming, too, especially for the warmer weather.

“It has been a very long fight,” Li said, “and although [this] may seem like a small step, it was very exciting. We should celebrate the victories when they come because sometimes they are hard to come by.”

3 Responses to Stanton St. park building to get community use

  1. Gregory Lee Pickard

    No need for a bike repair!

  2. Gregory Lee Pickard

    A private enterprise such as a restaurant/cafe etc (as opposed to a city run project) would provide the funding and moreover: have a personal stake in keeping the park beautifully tidy and safe. The Parks Dept. can't even provide or maintain basic trash containers!

  3. Gregory Lee Pickard

    Investigate neighborhood business contributions. The Public hotel has a big interest in revamping and maintaining safety in this area of the park!

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