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Budget cuts threaten Redfern Center

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The center, open Mondays through Fridays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the school year and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer, hosts summer youth programs, cultural and educational activities and is a meeting place for civic associations."We're looking to either consolidate it or find a sponsor," said Howard Marder, a spokesman for the Housing Authority.He said the agency may be four months away from making a decision on what to do with the center.City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), who represents the Redfern Houses, said the Housing Authority also argued that the community center has been "under-utilized.""As long as it is under-utilized, then we are just an accident waiting to happen," he said. "We must build up the usage at Redfern center."He also said the agency's "budget crisis is real," noting that it requested $62 million in funding from the state last year but received only $3 million.The center's youth programs, Sanders said, keep children out of trouble and he was concerned about public safety if the center should shutter.He noted that the Redfern Houses was "the scene of, sadly, numerous shootings," including one allegedly committed by a 13-year-old boy."We need a place where our young people can get proper socialization rather than just dumping them on the streets," Sanders said. "An idle mind is the devil's playground."Doris Jacobs, the president of the residents' asssociation at Redfern, could not be reached for comment.The community center serves the Redfern Houses, which has 1,702 residents living in 603 apartments within nine six- and seven-story buildings.The public housing project was built in 1959 and is bounded by Redfern Avenue, Beach Channel Drive and Hassock and Beach 12th streets in Far Rockaway.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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