NYC rec centers begin reopening Monday 1

The Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing, above, will partially reopen Monday, but for members only. So will Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park.

A baker’s dozen of New York City recreation centers, including two in Queens, will reopen Monday with restrictions in the first phase of a process to bring the facilities back.

Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park and the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing are among the 13 reopening citywide.

Not everything will be as it was before the facilities closed down in March 2020. The centers will only be open to people who were members at the time they shut down. They will operate at reduced capacity, masks will be required, equipment has been arranged to promote social distancing and pools will remain closed. Details are posted at nycgovparks.org/facilities/recreationcenters.

Officials touted the partial reopening in statements accompanying the announcement, made Friday.

“Recreation centers sit at the heart of so many communities, providing New Yorkers of all ages the chance to participate in athletics and a variety of other programming,” Mayor de Blasio said. “As we take these steps to reopen safely, I encourage everyone who isn’t vaccinated already to get their shot today.”

“As our city continues to take great strides in recovering and reopening, we are thrilled to begin the process of reopening our recreation centers for New Yorkers to enjoy,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “While we are excited to begin reopening our centers, we urge everyone to get vaccinated and continue to follow mask and social distancing guidance, so that we may fully emerge, together, from this pandemic.”

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), chairman of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, stated, "For the last year, the pandemic has deprived New Yorkers of everything that makes our city great, but the reopening of our recreation centers is a clear indicator that New York City is on the road to recovery. Just in time for summer, these important recreational facilities are primed to serve a variety of needs for communities, and I encourage New Yorkers to continue following proper health and safety guidelines so we can all take full advantage of these cherished amenities."

Beyond Queens, the centers that are partially reopening Monday are Hunts Point in the Bronx; Brownsville in Brooklyn; Hansborough, Alfred E. Smith, Highbridge, Rec Center 54, Thomas Jefferson and Tony Dapolito in Manhattan; and Greenbelt, Lyons and Faber on Staten Island.

On June 23, McCarren in Brooklyn and Ocean Breeze on Staten Island will join them.

“Parks recreation centers were closed in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic,” the city noted in Friday’s announcement. “Throughout the pandemic, recreation centers were repurposed in support of COVID-19 related services including youth education and childcare services, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and mask and food distribution hubs.

“Since 1910, the NYC Parks has provided the most affordable and extensive network of recreational services throughout New York City. Parks’ 36 recreation centers offer facilities such as indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, and dance studios, art studios, game rooms, and libraries. All recreation centers also offer a range of programs for people of all ages.”

— Peter C. Mastrosimone

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