Parks announces start of Owen Dolen exterior overhaul

The 18-month renovation at the building in heart of Westchester Square restores roofing, and includes façade and brick work.
Schneps Media / Patrick Rocchio

The historic building in the heart of Westchester Square that’s home to the Owen Dolen Recreation Center is now closed to the public as it prepares for a major rehabilitation of the structure’s exterior.

The renovation project began on Monday, April 8 and continue approximately 18 months, stated a NYC Parks Department spokesperson.

Programming at the Owen Dolen Recreation Center for youth and adults will cease during the $2.3 million exterior reconstruction.

The use of the space for Westchester Square Business Improvement District programming will also be curtailed during construction, said Yasmin Cruz, the BID’s executive director.

“We obviously feel a sadness that we are going to lose a space we use for our spring and summer events,” said Cruz. “It is also a space that will be lost for the community.”

The BID hopes that it will be completed sooner rather than later, said Cruz.

“If there was any alternative where we could use the space sooner, it would be extremely beneficial, because it is a great loss to the BID and for the community,” said Cruz.

The youth programing at the building, located in Owen Dolen Park at 2551 Westchester Avenue, will be provided at other nearby NYC Parks recreation centers.

The displaced programming, that includes NYC Parks Summer Camp and general member-based programming, will be offered at other park’s facilities that are a distance from Westchester Square: St. James Recreation Center in Fordham, St. Mary’s Recreation Center in Mott Haven, Williambridge Oval in Norwood and Hunts Point Recreation Center.

The renovation at Owen Dolen’s century-old building, once home to the Westchester Square Library, includes roof replacement, installation of perforated steel security screens, renovation of existing brick openings for new windows and other work designed to bring the building in compliance with the American’s With Disabilities Act.

Also included in the project will be changes to the building’s HVAC system, painting, plastering and other cosmetic work.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the NYC City Council allocated the funding for the project.

Additionally, $1.3 million will be used to renovate the windows and doors on the classic structure.

Sandi Lusk, of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization, said that work on the building is welcome, despite inconvenience, because it is necessary and would make the building sound for other improvements later on.

“These are things that need to be done,” she said, referring to the roofing work and waterproofing. “They need to make the building waterproof and sound before they can move ahead and do anything else.”

She said that for years Community Board 10 has made a more functional recreation center one of its budget priorities, and fixing the outside of the building is the first step in improving the space inside.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at
The Owen Dolen Recreation Center is undergoing an 18 month renovation.
Schneps Media / Patrick Rocchio

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