Owen Dolen Rec Center design approved

Roof replacement and masonry maintenance are slated for the Owen Dolen Recreation Center in Owen Dolen Park. They may begin later this year.

A city recreation center is slated for millions in repairs after years of deferred maintenance.

The NYC Parks Department is moving forward with the multi-million dollar renovation of Owen Dolen Recreation Center, including replacement of the classic building’s roof and masonry repairs to the exterior of the building.

According to an Parks spokesman, the design for the project was completed last month, and $2.39 million has been allocated though the final cost won’t be known until the project is put out to bid.

Pending a successful bid, the reconstruction is expected to begin later in 2017, stated the spokesman.

Councilman James Vacca said he allocated $1,555,000 to the recreation center renovation.

This is part of a larger effort that includes an upgrade of Owen Dolen Park and the construction of a new library in the Westchester Square Business Improvement District’s commercial hub.

“We want the recreation center to be used more,” said Vacca, adding “The maintenance on lot of these buildings was postponed and neglected for years, including here at Owen Dolen.”

With the help of additional capital funding allocated by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and former Mayor Bloomberg, renovations will be made that could lead to the children’s and fitness programs and facilities at the recreation center to be even better utilized, said Vacca.

Local community activist Sandi Lusk of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization said that the repairs to the building are long overdue and badly needed.

In 2013, upon the completion of upgrades to the parkland outside the recreation center, Lusk said she presented the Parks Department officials with pictures of problems inside the center’s building.

Among the issues were leaks in the roof that resulted in decreases in the building’s usable space, she said.

“Evidentially, (the renovations are) starting to move forward and this is hopefully only the beginning of what we hope will be a larger renovation of the building which will allow us to be open to more uses and activities,” said Lusk.

Lusk said she was glad that Community Board 10 voted unanimously at a general meeting on Thursday, January 19 to approve the renovation plans.

The Westchester Square BID provides support to programming inside the recreation center, said Lisa Sorin, BID executive director, who added that the building needs a lot of work.

“They get horrible leaks, she said. “The roof is extremely damaged; they get a lot of water damage inside the building.”

Another issue Sorin said she personally is concerned about is that the second floor of the recreation center, which has computer and fitness equipment, is not accessible to anyone with a physical disability because there is no elevator.

Sorin said the BID and the recreation center have a great working relationship, and she believes that there is a lot more potential in the building.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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