FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER GIFFORD MILLER, BOROUGH PRESIDENT MARTY MARKOWITZ, AND TAKE THE FIELD FOUNDER RICHARD KAHAN ANNOUNCE TRANSFORMATION PLANS FOR THE PARK SLOPE ARMORY IN BROOKLYN
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Take the Field Founder Richard Kahan today announced a plan to transform the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn into a multi-purpose athletic and recreational center. Take the Field, a non-profit organization that has been rebuilding public school athletic facilities in New York City, is leading the initiative in collaboration with the Departments of Homeless Services (DHS) and Education (DOE), to convert underutilized space at the Armory into a multi-purpose athletic, recreational, and educational center. The Mayor and City Council have each committed $6 million, and the Borough President’s Office has committed $2 million. Take the Field will also contribute $2 million in privately-raised funds. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Council Member Bill DeBlasio, DHS Commissioner Linda Gibbs, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and P.S. 107 Principal Cynthia Holton joined the Mayor for the announcement.
“New York City’s armories, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, are important historical structures, closely tied to the City’s cultural and civic growth, and are untapped resources for community space,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Modeled after the successful program at the Fort Washington Armory in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Take the Field plans to makes use of underutilized space at the Park Slope Armory to create a community asset with immeasurable benefits for Brooklynites young and old. The partnership between Take the Field, DHS and DOE creates an exciting opportunity to partner essential social services with community resources that greatly improve quality of life for neighborhood residents, and I want to thank the Borough President and the Council for their part in making this project a reality.”
“During my nine years as a State Senator representing Park Slope, and since becoming Borough President in 2002, one of my top priorities has been to return this magnificent building to its rightful status as a resource for this community,” said Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz. “This state-of-the-art facility will improve the quality of life for sports loving Brooklynites of every age from every corner of the borough and offer numerous other community services. I am proud that Brooklyn’s future sports legends will run, shoot, and score right here in Brooklyn.”
“The work done by the Take the Field organization has without a doubt had an amazing impact on New York City’s students,” said Speaker Miller. “We will now be able to bring some of that magic to Brooklyn’s Park Slope Armory. One of the best things we can do is offer a community a place to go for sports, recreation and education; now through the dedication of this organization, local leaders area students and the people of the community will have a new facility.”
“I’m proud we secured a $6 million Council allocation for the Park Slope Armory Initiative,” said Council Member Bill DeBlasio. “These funds will help convert an eyesore into a new asset for our community. After working more than two years, we will provide the children and families in Park Slope and throughout the borough with much needed facilities for athletic and community activities. Our partners in the Armory Initiative made a great play. This is a big win for our kids.”
“Take the Field’s mission is to provide state of the art athletic facilities for the public school children of New York City,” said Take the Field Founder Richard Kahan. “After Take the Field completes our current program to rebuild 43 existing outdoor athletic fields that serve over 150,000 children a year from now, more than 800,000 public school children will still lack an adequate place to play. The conversion of the Park Slope Armory begins to address this problem by providing thousands of Brooklyn public school students and the surrounding community with a new first class athletic facility.”
Take the Field’s Armory Initiative seeks to convert underutilized armories into vibrant educational and athletic centers. New York City’s armories have two distinct parts: monumental drill floors, which approximate the size of a football field (50,000-70,000 square feet), and garrisons, once offices and now partially utilized as dormitories for homeless residents. The Park Slope Armory renovation will emulate the program created by HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) and Dr. Norbert Sander at the Fort Washington Armory in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, which transformed underutilized shelter space into a world-class track and field center now serving hundreds of thousands of people. The Fort Washington Armory, which plays home to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, often called the “fastest track in the northeast,” serves as a community center providing after-school activities and adult education in partnership with a broad range of non-profit organizations.
Since the 1980’s, the garrison of the Park Slope Armory has been used as a municipal shelter, and currently hosts a 70-bed program for homeless women operated by the Church Avenue Merchants Association (CAMBA). The size of the Park Slope Armory drill floor allows for children and adults from local public and private schools, clubs, youth and adult leagues, senior citizens groups, and the homeless populations to play a variety of different sports. In addition to track and field, the facility can accommodate basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, badminton, boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, taekwondo, handball, weightlifting, wrestling, and aerobics.
“Over the past few years, the Department of Homeless Services has undertaken a series of capital improvements to prepare the Armory for this day and this partnership,” said Homeless Services Commissioner Linda Gibbs. “By continuing to provide services to homeless women in a re-purposed site, we have every expectation that the successful mixed-use model in place at the Ft. Washington Armory will be replicated here.”
“Improved student health and nutrition through expanded sports programs and healthier school food are an important element of our ‘Children First’ school reforms,” Schools Chancellor Klein. “We are pleased that such an outstanding facility as a renovated Park Slope Armory will, with the help of Take the Field, will become available to our students.”
Take the Field has projected that the cost of the renovations at Park Slope Armory at $16 million. These funds will be used to renovate the interior of the drill floor area, upgrade the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, build new balconies and seating, provide bathrooms and lockers, and renovate the ceiling and roof areas. The construction would last two years with the bulk of the first year work involving the drill floor renovations, creation of bathrooms and locker areas, ceiling work, and installation of fire sprinkler systems. The second year construction activities would include installation of other mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and renovation of the balconies. In the coming months, Take the Field will work with the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Homeless Services to finalize facility design and define a construction schedule.
Edward Skyler / Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Leticia Theodore (City Council)
Mary Musca (Take the Field) (212) 521-2232
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