Bay Ridge community center slated to significantly expand
FORT HAMILTON PARKWAY — The Bay Ridge Community Development Center (BRCDC) is getting a multimillion-dollar facelift, elected officials announced at a press conference this past Monday, expanding from its current size of 8,500 square feet to a whopping 42,000 square feet — with construction slated to begin in 2024, and expected to be completed by 2026.
The center, which is located at 9818 Fort Hamilton Parkway, has been in existence since 2020, and previously served the community as a church, was recently awarded $6 million in capital funding, courtesy of Councilman Justin Brannan.
The new and improved facility will consist of amenities that include a basketball court and swimming pool, in addition to an expanded youth space, and an exercise room.
The center’s objective is to promote and provide activities and services that contribute to the physical, emotional, and social well-being of the community. They provide supervised program opportunities for the enrichment of children and teens; activities and services for adults and senior citizens; and affordable recreational, social, and educational activities to community residents of all ages, regardless of ethnicity, gender or economic status.
“This is, and will be, a welcoming spot for every Brooklynite, for every New Yorker — anyone that wants to come in,” Bibi Esahack, executive director of the BRCDC told the Brooklyn Eagle.
“The demographic that we’ve served has been so varied; for example, we have a very large Greek population here that has been wonderful and welcoming to us, as well as an Italian population, and up and coming Chinese population.”
Councilman Justin Brannan pointed out that a facility of this magnitude has been a long time coming.
“One of the things I’ve heard about for decades is the need for a real deal community center in Bay Ridge,” Brannan said, “and BRCDC’s vision is to build a home for everybody, where everyone will be welcome.”
“With Justin’s help we can now take things to the next level, and really make wishes come true for this entire community,” said State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who spoke at the conference as well.
Also making an appearance was State Sen. Iwen Chu, who talked a bit about the benefits of the center looking forward.
“This is a beautiful vision that is now coming to light — that we can have a space for our families, our youth — especially the next generation,” Chu explained, “a place where they can learn, grow, and volunteer,”
However, Esahack pointed out that when the BRCDC first retrofitted the church for a community center three years ago, it was a bit of an uphill climb, in that there was a lot of skepticism among many in the community.
“Oh, you are building a mosque? What’s going on? Are the Muslims moving in?” she recalled people saying.
“And then COVID did something to everyone. It showed that we are all part of one human family, and everyone that needed help, we helped them. We believe that changed people’s minds.”
Esahack said her ultimate goal is to truly make a difference in people’s lives “for the long, long term.”
“The church that was here before this center served the community for over 100 years,” she noted, “and we really are hoping to serve the community for 100 more — and beyond.”
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