After more than 30 years, Edenwald’s quest for a community center received its final approval.
The news came to Community Board 12 on Wednesday, May 23, when George Torres, the board’s district manager, received an email informing him the YMCA had been approved by the City Council for its Edenwald location.
“Including a community recreation center has been on this community board’s registry of district needs for 35 years,” said Torres.
“We are beyond excited and for me, I know I’ll cry during the breaking ground ceremony,” continued Torres.
The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process for the Edenwald YMCA project was completed in an incredibly short time – three months and one day, the fastest ULURP public approval on the NYC Economic Development Corporation record.
The Council had forgone the hearing process for the project, deferring to Councilman Andy King’s approval of the facility and its location.
The project also garnered unanimous support across the entire community and all of its local elected officials.
So, by skipping the Council hearing and vote, the ULURP approval process was sped up, shaving almost nine months off the calendar.
“When everyone is in agreement, that’s when government works most effectively,” said Councilman King, who grew up in the CB12 community.
He remembered trying to establish a community center in the area as a teen.
Every year a community center location or sponsor was proposed, there were mitigating factors that prevented the plan from moving forward.
Finding a suitable site, obtainingthe necessary funding, or locking up support, were some of the issues that delayed the project, according to King.
“The work really began with the community,” said Senator Jamaal Bailey referencing the community members he recalled being at the forefront of the calls for a community center.
Bailey also grew up in the area and had long supported the construction of a community center.
“Not just government, but people make things happen and if you don’t do something, outcomes don’t change,” said 91-year-old Alonzo de Castro, another advocate for the community and the community center.
De Castro explained a few years ago he saw an opportunity to gather support for a community center again.
That call to action helped the YMCA get the unanimous support it received.
The YMCA efforts to host the new community center in 2016, were backed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the EDC.
“We are one step closer to the ground breaking and one step closer to a huge win for the Bronx,” said Heastie on the news of the Council’s approval.
The YMCA was the first to offer to partner with the community and provide some of their funding towards the project, according to King.
The project, though expected to begin construction this fall, could actually see shovels in the ground as early as the end of the summer, according to Joseph Chan the YMCA’s senior vice president of Real Estate and Management Property.
The 50,000 square-foot facility will be located on 1250 E. 229th Street and contain amenities such as new basketball courts and pools, among other features.