Staten Island, NY – Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea, Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, together with the family of NYPD Officer Gerard Carter, today opened the Gerard Carter Community Center at the Stapleton Houses in Staten Island. The state-of-the-art center, named in honor of slain NYPD Officer Gerard Carter, brings many resources to the community, including a brand new gym, performance space, and a Technology Center powered by Time Warner Cable made possible through a generous donation by the company. Part of DYCD’s Cornerstone Initiative, the new Carter Center will serve more than 400 children and adults. In addition to afterschool programs, physical fitness activities and General Education Diploma (GED) Preparation courses, beginning July 5 the center will also provide a free summer camp for nearly 100 young people, ages 6 to 13 years old.
They were joined by Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, Council Member Debi Rose, Time Warner Cable’s Regional Vice President of Operations Howard Szarfarc, former Staten Island Borough President Guy V. Molinari, and David Sorkin, the Executive Director of the Staten Island Jewish Community Center (SIJCC). SIJCC is the community based organization that will run the day-to-day operations of the center.
“When we set out to create the Cornerstone Initiative, we believed that we could utilize the strong programming of DYCD and the community space of NYCHA for the greater good of area residents,” said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. “Today, as we open this beautiful facility, it’s clear that we are going to provide invaluable programming at a state of the art facility. It’s a great honor to dedicate this community center to Officer Carter – a man who gave so much of himself to the people of Staten Island.”
“I am very pleased to see the Gerard Carter Center open to the community,” said Borough President James P. Molinaro. “Officer Carter made a great impact on the lives of many Staten Islanders, especially children, and now his legacy will continue through this center.”
“It is a tremendous tribute that we not only name this community center in honor of Gerard Carter; it is of greater significance that this Center continue the commitment to youth that was so important in his life,” said Chairman John B. Rhea. “When youth from NYCHA and the surrounding community enjoy the educational, cultural and sports programs offered through the Cornerstone Initiative, Officer Carter’s legacy of public service will continue to be felt, not only in Staten Island, but all across our great City. His example of self-less devotion tells us that life is best lived when you dedicate yourself to improving the lives of others.”
“Officer Carter dedicated much of his time to supporting the youth on Staten Island, so it is fitting that today we open a center bearing his name that will live up to that legacy,” said Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. “The Cornerstone Initiative has been tremendously successful in bringing resources to communities in need, and I look forward to the opportunities this center will afford area residents. Whether we’re talking about afterschool programs or a job training course, these are services that can lift an entire neighborhood.”
“The Center is a tangible monument to community engagement and public service, and a fitting tribute to the memory of Officer Carter, who made the ultimate sacrifice in his commitment to both,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
“It’s bitter sweet that we had to lose this young man, a person devoted to good will, in order to be here today for the opening of this wonderful facility, which stands to immortalize his life,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “This center will provide greatly needed services to the North Shore community in the 21,000-square-foot multi-purpose space, where youngsters will learn to use computers, do their homework and hone their academic and physical muscles. It’s a great space for the community to congregate and I’m excited about the prospect of using the amphitheater for a community event.”
“This center will give the children in the area a safe place where they can be physically active and get the help they need, all in a clean and beautiful public space,” said Jozette Carter, the widow of Officer Carter. “But it will also help to carry out the work that Gerard did with children, the work he took great pride in. We have waited for this day, and it’s time to celebrate the grand opening!”
“The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island is thrilled to be working with NYCHA and DYCD in an effort to bring excellent recreational, social and educational programs to our community,” said David Sorkin, Executive Director of the SIJCC. “I strongly believe that this cooperative relationship will be a testimony to the benefits of combining the significant resources of the city and a local not for profit organization like the JCC.”
Officer Carter, known by many people in the community as a “Gentle Giant,” served as a softball coach not far from the Stapleton Houses where the community center now stands. He was also highly decorated, earning two commendations and an award for outstanding officer of the year by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce in just five years of service. The Carter Community Center will house a permanent memorial to Officer Carter, with his NYPD uniform cap as the centerpiece. In addition, as part of the dedication ceremony, a plaque was mounted near the entrance of the center’s courtyard, another reminder of the ultimate sacrifice Officer Carter made for his community.
Thanks to a generous donation from Time Warner Cable, the center will house a Technology Center powered by Time Warner Cable, which will be equipped with state-of-the-art computers, computer software, Time Warner Cable Business Class High-Speed Internet service, flat screen high definition (HD) televisions, HD cable service including an HD DVR and digital cameras.
“Partnering with community organizations, such as Staten Island Carter Center, is one of the key factors in the success of a state-of-the-art Technology Center,” said Howard Szarfarc, Regional Vice President of Operations, Time Warner Cable New York City. “As a technology company, Time Warner Cable is very committed to bridging the digital divide in the communities we serve. Each center is powered by Time Warner Cable and houses the latest technologies and offers valuable resources to help residents develop useful skills in all facets of life.”
Announced by Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, Cornerstone Community Centers provide engaging activities year-round for young people and adults. Programs are located at 25 NYCHA Community Centers in all five boroughs. Youth programs are designed to help participants acquire the skills and attitudes they need to graduate from high school, succeed in their chosen career, and give back to the community. Adult programs are designed to enhance skills and promote social interaction, community engagement, and physical activity.