FLATBUSH – After an uptick in shootings, a recreation center for the youth is coming soon to the Nostrand Playground to “put them in the right path, to stop problems before they begin,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
“We know there’s been a real problem with violence that must be addressed, and we know the best way to address it is with communities,” de Blasio said in his press conference this morning. “All the good people who work so hard in this city, want their neighborhoods to be safe, need their neighbors to be safe, they’re doing something about it. And they understand and we understand that the best way to achieve lasting safety is with communities and NYPD working together. And the outpouring of community involvement and support has been striking. It’s also important that the City government keep investing in communities, going at the root causes of so many of the challenges we face and investing, particularly, in our young people. And that means investing in youth programs, youth centers.”
De Blasio explained that young people need places to go; they need places to grow up and develop themselves in. Which is where the Shirley Chisholm Community Recreation Center comes into play.
“We have to create more and better space safe spaces for young people. Think about it for a moment. If you’re a young person in New York City, you need safe places to go. You need places to grow and develop,” he said. “You need places for recreation and culture. We don’t have enough of those spaces. We need to create more.”
This comes after another weekend with shootings and deaths. In four separate shootings across the borough, five people died, including a 16-year-old and 18-year-old. In Flatbush, a 32-year-old man was shot in the face and chest on East 16th Street between Dorchester and Cortelyou Roads. He died from his injuries.
“This is about our priorities, and this is an example of resources we took from the NYPD budget and are putting into young people, reprogramming our resources to help young people, to put them on the right path, to stop problems before they begin,” de Blasio said.
The recreation center will be created at the Nostrand Playground in Flatbush, located at 3002 Foster Avenue. It will have an indoor pool, a track, a kitchen for community cooking lessons, immigration services, workplace development, and other amenities to keep the people of all ages engaged. In the fall, de Blasio will begin the process of engagement with the community on how to create the recreation center that would be most beneficial.
“As you may know, our community has faced an uphill battle this year. My district has had the highest rates of infection and fatalities of almost any neighborhood in the city regarding COVID-19. Racial disparities in our education, housing, and health care systems have been highlighted by the pandemic. We are also combatting an increase in shootings,” Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte said. “For years, children in our neighborhoods have been looking for a place to go where they can safely gather with friends. When there is no oversight, youth can become disengaged and motivated by peer pressure. We need to protect our children from the risks posed by unstructured free time. And this is more important now in the face of the pandemic and growing racial disparities than ever before.”
Council Member Farah Louis agreed. She said this was a much-needed initiative in East Flatbush and it is about time it is coming together.
“Our young families and seniors have waited with much anticipation for a safe space that they can call their own,” she said. “A hub for learning, recreation, community, and civic engagement. This state of the art community and recreation center will be a beacon of inspiration and innovation where people of all ages and backgrounds can connect and prosper with expanded access to much-needed resources in a centralized location.”
“As our city and my district… grapple with the increase in shootings, this state of the art recreation center will a pivotal turning the tide. The center will help us curb gang and gun violence,” she continued. “And this is how we occupy our blocks and our corners. This is how we’re going to stop shootings and save lives. This is how we’re going to ensure that our community remains safe by taking a critical step forward.”