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Marine Park no longer green with envy - Plans for new senior center revealed

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It's been a long time coming, but Marine Park seniors will have a sparkling new center to call their own by fall 2009. At the latest Marine Park Civic Association meeting, City Councilman Lew Fidler, State Senator Marty Golden, and State Assemblyman Alan Maisel stood together to announce that the contract had been awarded for construction on the $6.5 million center. The building will be located off Marine Parkway on Fillmore Avenue. The large, circular building will also contain a field house. In addition, the building will be environment-friendly: it will be made with recycled materials and have energy savers for lighting, a green roof and solar cells that will generate 5 percent of the building’s energy. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2009, a Parks Department spokesman said. The building's primary purpose will be to house the Marine Park Active Adults Program, the innovative, activities-based organization that has expanded rapidly to include 1,800 area seniors on its mailing list. Currently, the Active Adults are housed in a small building at the Salt Marsh Nature Center. The new building will allow the program to provide more services – particularly its many athletics-based offerings – and offer more than two days of operation, according to program director Joseph Bernardo. “We actually started the program in hopes of having a new building. There are a lot of people who need services that we can’t provide in a small building. Hopefully, we can be open five days a week sometime in the future,” Bernardo said. Ground will be broken on the building as early as this spring, pending Comptroller Bill Thompson’s final approval of the construction contract. Named after former Marine Park Civic Association President Carmine Carro, the building has been on the minds of Marine Park seniors for the past decade. “I was standing here as a Councilman in 1998 when this was talked about. Now it’s 2008,” Golden said. “But guess what? It’s now a reality.” In addition to housing the Active Adults program, the building will also be used as a general community center. “We hope to be able to put some programs for young people into that center because, Lord knows, we have a lot of young people in Marine Park looking for something constructive to do as opposed to hanging out on the street,” Fidler said. “This is the perfect opportunity. If we build it, they will come.” Fidler said that the need for an appealing community center is particularly acute in Marine Park since the neighborhood rejected a Beacon Program — a city-funded program which provides organized after-school activities for middle-school aged children — in the early 1990s. “In retrospect, it was kind of short-sighted,” Fidler recalled. “People didn’t want kids trekking back and forth at night from these activities, but kids who are going to be out are going to be out there anyway. It’s better if they’re doing something constructive.” The bulk of the funding for the $6.5 million project was provided by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave $3.5 million at the behest of local elected officials. “The Mayor really stepped up to the plate on this one,” said Golden. Filder secured $1.4 million in City Council funding, Golden secured $1.1 million, Maisel secured $30,000 and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein secured $30,000. The center will be the largest of its kind in the area, supplanting the John Malone Community Center on Avenue W and Bergen Avenue in Bergen Beach.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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