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PR- 115-04
May 11, 2004


City’s Newest Recreation Center Opens Its Doors 30 Years After Original Construction Began

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Thomas K. Duane, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David J. Burney to cut the ribbon at the Chelsea Recreation Center, the newest center to open in the City.  Completed at a total cost of  $22.4 million, the 56,500 square-foot boasts six floors of facilities, including a swimming pool, a gymnasium with full-size basketball court, and a computer resource center.

“Today we cut the ribbon on the Chelsea Recreation Center and finish a project originally begun over 30 years ago by Mayor John Lindsay,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “After laying dormant since the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s, construction on the center has finally been completed.  The spectacular, six-floor facility will offer everything from swimming, basketball and a fitness room to classroom space and a computer lab for after school programs.  I would like to thank all those who worked so hard to see this long-awaited project come to fruition, and especially Rosemary O’Keefe, for making sure that work resumed in 2001 after the project was halted 25 years earlier.”

“The completion of this project celebrates the first recreation center to open in Manhattan in over 30 years,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Chelsea Recreation Center will soon be filled with dozens of free sports and educational programs for children and adults. As with all of the City’s recreation centers, it will be a community center as well as a fitness center—a place for New Yorkers to socialize and learn, as well as become more fit and healthy.”

“Recreation centers are focal points in community life and play an important role in the healthy development of our children,” said DDC Commissioner Burney, AIA. “At DDC we are proud of our role, and our collaboration with the Department of Parks & Recreation, in delivering this beautiful facility to the Chelsea community.”

The project was funded with $20.9 million through the Mayor’s capital budget, as well as $880,000 allocated by Council Member Christine Quinn, $357,000 allocated by Borough President Fields and an additional $250,000 in federal funds allocated by Congressman Nadler.

The history of the Chelsea Recreation Center dates back to the late 1960s, when the project was first conceived. The project went into design phase from 1970 to 1973 and construction began in 1973. The building’s exterior and support structures were completed. Construction on the center halted in 1976 and did not resume until June 2001. Designed by architecture firm Koutsomitis Architects, P.C., the center was completed by the Department of Design and Construction.

The original design, conceived more than 35 years ago, was improved by adding state-of-the-art recreational facilities. The center will feature a 25-yard, six-lane pool and gymnasium equipped with a full-court, high school regulation basketball court, as well as space for gymnastics and ballet. The pool will accommodate lifeguard training and learn-to-swim programs.  The fitness areas include space for cardiovascular equipment, aerobic classes and senior and youth programming. 
The center also features several locker rooms, weightlifting and aerobics rooms, after-school classrooms and a computer lab, and concession space for a café. The facility is outfitted with an elevator to accommodate all users. Above the pool are five handcrafted murals depicting aquatic life, each containing approximately 175,000 hand placed mosaic tiles donated by glass mosaic tile manufacturer Bisazza.

Annual membership to the recreation center will cost $75 for adults ages 18 to 54, $10 for seniors 55 and older, and will be free for children ages 17 and under. Membership at Chelsea Recreation Center is good at all other City recreation centers as well.

The Department of Parks & Recreation runs 36 recreation centers throughout the City, as well as 11 indoor pool and 53 outdoor pools, which include Olympic-sized, intermediate, and mini-pools. City recreation centers receive over a million visits from children and adults each year.  They offer a variety of facilities, including swimming pools, fitness equipment, weight rooms, aerobic studios, basketball courts and tracks.  Special classes, which are offered at many centers, allow members the chance to try new workout techniques or learn a new sport. All centers offer free after school programs for children that consist of arts, athletics, and academics.


Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958


Megan Sheekey   (Parks)
(212) 360-1311

Matthew Monahan   (DDC)
(718) 391-1641

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