The City Council member who backed plans to convert a Crown Heights armory into a recreation center charged Thursday the developers betrayed the community on discount access.
“I hope that when it opens, it closes,” Councilmember Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) told THE CITY as the Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center gets set to make its grand debut Oct. 27. “And it’s the biggest failure New York City’s ever experienced.”
The facility, she declared, was “designed for the third wave of gentrifiers who are coming into the community.”
Cumbo tinged her strong words at times with sarcasm, coupled with frustration at questions about her role in approving the deal. At one point she snapped: “The armory doesn’t even exist…. The whole armory is an illusion. You win. You found it out.”
She spoke after THE CITY called to ask about newly released details about long-anticipated local discounts revealed by the developer of the soon-to-open rec center at the city-owned former Bedford Union Armory.
The developer, BFC Partners, said 250 discount memberships will be available for as little as $10 a month and $8 for children. The area served by the new rec center has 45,000 low-income residents, according to census estimates.
BFC vows at least $1.3 million in annual “community benefits” from operators of the center’s pool, basketball courts and turf field, also including $10 swim and soccer lessons for local residents.
THE CITY reported
in September that swim lessons for kids were being advertised at a
steep $50 a half hour. Regular rec center memberships will start at $30 a
month, BFC Partners announced this week.
But Cumbo, whose approval in 2017 cleared the way for the swimming pool, sports gym and nonprofit space inside the historic former drill hall in Crown Heights — along with hundreds of apartments to come — declared the outcome a disaster.
“It’s not going to be accessible to anyone in the neighborhood or anyone in the community. No one, no one’s going to have access,” she said.
“There are no affordable memberships for the community. There’s no accessibility. It was never designed for accessibility,” she added.