Today’s news:

Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club center in Castle Hill likely to close: officials

Bronx Times

Expect plenty of kids and seniors “with no place to go” if places like the Castle Hill branch of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club get hit with city budget cuts.

That’s the warning from Councilwoman Anabel Palma, urging Mayor Bloomberg to rethink his 2013 FY budget proposal that would cut Out of School Time (OST) programs like Kips Bay’s at Castle Hill Houses.

The cuts, taking effect in July, could force single parents to give up their jobs to look out for their kids, said Palma.

Standing before a crowd of Kips Bay members and senior citizens at a rally earlier this month, Palma asked Hizzoner to look at the faces of the young and old and think about the ramifications behind the closures.

“This is actually going to ruin communities,” predicts Palma, who herself benefitted from an OST/after school center while growing up in Soundview, once plagued by violent crime.

With Castle Hill on the chopping block, 11-year old Mercy Young said she will be left without her “second family”.

“I wouldn’t be doing anything at home,” said Young, daughter of a single mother “who needs to work.” Come September, Mercy doesn’t know who will watch her while her mother works afternoons as a nurse’s aide.

“It’s a second home to me,” said Champagne Silva, another one of the 250 Kips Bay members. “The staff motivates you to succeed in life.”

About 500 senior citizens who attend the Castle Hill Senior Center will also be effected.

“I have a place to talk to people and learn many things,” said Soundview resident Nilda Antonsanti.

The Bloomberg administration stands to close about 35 after-school programs in the Bronx, as part of a plan to close a $2 billion budget shortfall.

Officials will also eliminate 47,000 citywide spots for kids who would participate in city-run centers. Phipps Community Development’s Beacon after-school program is one of those centers, set to shut down next month.

But while Kips Bay and two other centers will close in Palma’s district, three others will open in her district in September.

But Palma spokesman Dustin Engelken called the Kips Bay Center “a special case,” with “a long history in and connection with Castle Hill. The other three centers don’t.”

The Kips Bay Center also supports the senior programming, he added.

Computer classes and games are some of the activities senior citizens get to enjoy at the program.

This is the fifth straight year the Bloomberg administration has cut children’s services, veering off the mayor’s message that a child’s development outside of school is as important as what happens inside.

The new Fiscal Year 2013 budget still needs a vote by the City Council by the end of June. Even if the budget passes with the cuts, Palma said there is a chance to restore some of the proposed after-school cuts through City Council funding.

Reach reporter David Cruz at (718) 742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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