Owen Dolen Rec Center rehab expected to start soon

An artist’s rendering shows the proposed renovations to the front of the Owen Dolen Recreation Center building on Westchester Avenue.
Photo courtesy of NYC Parks Department

A long awaited multi-million dollar renovation of a NYC Parks Department’s facility is inching closer to fruition.

The $2.39 million earmarked to replace the roof is funded by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and the NYC Council, with an additional $1.345 million for windows and doors at the Owen Dolen Recreation Center coming from the two earlier funding sources along with the Mayor’s office.

Community Board 10 voted unanimously to send a letter of support for the plan on Thursday, October 18.

The plan for the century-old building that once served as Westchester Square’s library includes perforated steel security screens, reconstruction of existing brick openings for new windows, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant doors, according to an NYC Parks presentation to CB 10.

It also encompasses interior finishes, plastering, painting and changes to the air conditioning unit.

“We are happy that plans to renovate the Owen Dolen Recreation Center are moving forward; our schematic design has been approved and we are transitioning into the next phase of this capital project,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, NYC Parks Bronx commissioner.

Rodriguez-Rosa added that NYC Parks values partners in government who made the project possible through funding: Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the Mayor’s office and the New York City Council.

A spokesman for Diaz’s office said that it provided $650,000 toward the exterior renovation project, as well as $500,000 to an earlier project completed in 2013 that renovated the park the building is located in.

Former Councilman James Vacca allocated the additional council funding.

Matt Cruz, Community Board 10 district manager, said that he believes that improving the recreation center and park will have a positive impact on the community.

“In Westchester Square we have a thriving business corridor and Owen Dolen Park and its recreation center is at the center of it,” said Cruz.

Cruz added that the consensus opinion of the board is that Owen Dolen can act as a magnet for business, community and culture in the Square.

He said that it is his understanding that the ‘facelift’ to the recreation center, located at 2551 Westchester Avenue near the entrance to the Square’s station on the IRT # 6 line, will preserve the stately building’s century-old character.

“Westchester Square is a very historical community,” added Cruz.

Lisa Sorin, Westchester Square BID executive director, said that the renovations of the building are badly needed, saying that these renovations to the roof are a necessary first step toward implementing a larger vision for the recreation center in the future.

Sandi Lusk of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization applauded the project.

“This is really great and necessary, because without a good roof you cannot do anything else,” she said. “However, we are really also hoping that this renovation is a beginning of a full renovation of the building, both of the interior and the exterior.”

Lusk said she also hopes that the recreation center is used more often, not only for Parks events and programming, but also for community group activities as well.

Community leader Bob Bieder said he believes the renovation would make the building more energy efficient.

An NYC Parks Department spokeswoman said the project is currently in procurement and expected to begin in 2019.

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

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