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PR- 320-06
September 6, 2006


City, State and Federal Grants Help Transform Part of Historic Armory into Athletic, Educational and Cultural Center for the Harlem Community

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor George E. Pataki and Police Athletic League    of New York City (PAL) Executive Director John J. Ryan today joined community leaders to announce the opening of the Harlem Armory as a multi-purpose athletic, educational and cultural center for children. The $6.4 million reconstruction project, administered by the PAL, was made possible by a combination of City, State and Federal contributions. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright and New York State Director    of Criminal Justice Chauncey G. Parker attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Harlem Armory at 142nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

“With the school year beginning, this is a perfect time to introduce a new place for our children to go for athletic, educational and cultural after-school activities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The transformation of the Harlem Armory into a community center is exciting for the neighborhood, and it demonstrates what can be achieved when the public, not-for-profit and private sectors collaborate with the community to find innovative ways to create something that will benefit local residents.”

“The children of Harlem will greatly benefit from this newly-designed Armory and I’m proud to have been apart of such a great endeavor,” Governor Pataki said.  “The future generations of this great City and State will have this state-of-the-art athletic and educational facility, which will provide children with a safe place to learn and grow, right here in the historic heart of Harlem.”

“The Police Athletic League is happy to join in this wonderful collaboration for the benefit of the community and its residents,” said PAL Executive Director Ryan.

The renovated facility houses six modern tennis courts, two multi-purpose courts, three classrooms, a computer room and office space. It will offer children numerous hands-on, after-school activities such as track and field, volleyball, basketball, tennis, rock climbing, martial arts, boxing and gymnastics, as well as enrichment programs, such as tutoring, mentoring, computer training, SAT preparation and public speaking.

It will also provide community residents with a new, state-of-the-art venue for large public events, including concerts, graduation ceremonies and festivals. Space for a radio and television station has also been constructed to overlook the floor of the drill shed, giving youth training and experience in broadcasting and filming events taking place at the Armory.

“If we are going to prepare the next generation for all of the challenges of the 21st century, we have to make sure that they have quality education in and out of the classroom,” said Congressman Rangel. “The expansion of the Harlem Armory moves us one more step closer toward the goal of giving all of our children the opportunity to exercise both their bodies and minds. Of making sure that they have all the tools they need to succeed and reach their full potential.”

“I am happy that the young people of West Harlem will now be able to use the Harlem Armory for a variety of athletic, educational and cultural activities,” said District Attorney Morgenthau. “Newly renovated using drug forfeiture money, the Harlem Armory Center is both a fitting memorial to the 369th Regiment and a wonderful resource for the youth of this community.  I congratulate the Governor, the Mayor and Chauncey Parker on achieving this very important result for this community.”

The City, State and federal government provided the funding for the renovations through a number of sources including: $1.2 million each from the City and State, a $1.8 million HUD Community Development Block Grant, about $1.25 million in asset forfeiture from drug trafficking convictions, a $500,000 New York City Empowerment Zone Grant, and a number of other grants from agencies including the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the New York State Lottery and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

To support future programming at the Armory, a $250,000 grant has been awarded by Assemblyman Wright. Going forward, the Harlem Armory Advisory Board will be working with a number of private and public partners to continue to raise funds and build community partnerships to better serve the Harlem community through programs and events at the facility.

The reconstruction project was administered by the PAL, which holds the lease from the State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) to operate programs in the drill shed of the Armory. The Harlem Armory Advisory Board, made up of representatives from the Harlem Junior Tennis Program, the NYC Mission Society (Minisink), ProAm National City Leagues Inc., the 369th Veteran’s Association, Inc. and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) were also instrumental in assisting PAL in the planning of the project.

“Today we are celebrating the creation of a magnificent sports, education and cultural center for the Harlem community,” said Criminal Justice Director Parker. “The Harlem Armory Center is destined to become a hallmark in the neighborhood and the city with something for everyone.  Whether you are four or ninety-four, the Harlem Armory will provide limitless possibilities to play and learn.  This project would not have been possible without the dedication and support of Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg and the countless private and public sector partners, who have joined together to make this dream a reality—a shining example of what happens when we all work together towards a common goal.”

The New York State-owned armory was built in 1933 for the 369th Regiment. Known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” the 369th Regiment owns a special place in American History as it was the first Black Regiment to fight in World War I. The Regiment will continue to occupy part of the facility. It will be the only active National Guard Armory to offer this type of community use. DMNA is preparing a pictorial history of the 369th regiment to be prominently displayed at the community center.

“The Soldiers and Airmen and Women of the New York National Guard have a long tradition of dedicated service to their communities, state, and nation and the Harlem Hell Fighters hold a special place in our history,” said New York State Adjutant General, Major General Joseph J. Taluto. “As long-standing members of their community, it is fitting that this multi-agency project be housed in the Harlem Armory and that it will benefit children and youth, as well as maintain the 369th’s presence here for years to come. This project is a reflection of Governor Pataki's leadership and support of our communities and of our troops who are providing an integral part of our homeland security.”

As a part of their National Backpack Initiative and to commemorate this historic event, Office Depot has donated 2,500 back-to-school backpacks, complete with school supplies for the children in the community. This year marks the donation of the one-millionth backpack through this important and beneficial project. Children attending the event each were presented with a backpack and a toy NASCAR automobile. The remainder of the backpacks will be distributed to the children in the Harlem community through participating schools and community based organizations in the area.


Stu Loeser / Paul Elliott   (212) 788-2958


Joanna Rose (Governor)   (212) 681-4640

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