The New Hyde Park Police Athletic Center, in serious disrepair from two floods in the last several years, is rising from the depths in a major reconstruction effort as a community recreation center.
Work is already underway on restoring the concrete floor under what were the basketball courts in the center’s gymnasium.
PAL funds and a county grant are being used restore the concrete floor beneath the gym.
The organization is also seeking state grants to restore the gym floor and remedy the drainage problems that allowed flooding which resulted in the gym floor buckling in 2005 and again in 2007.
“We had to take a loan out through the cooperation of the Nassau County PAL” to begin the work, said Kevin Worth, Nassau County Police Officer director of the facility.
The county PAL secured a 25-year $250,000 loan for the project, Worth said, and the New Hyde Park PAL kicked in another $200,000.
Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello secured a $100,000 county grant for the facility in 2009.
That was supposed be combined with a $200,000 state grant secured by former state Sen. Craig Johnson the same year. The grant secured by Johnson was lost – along with approximately $10 million in other state grants secured by Johnson – by the state Senate Democratic leadership after Johnson lost his seat to Republican Jack Martins.
“We had to regroup and figure it out from there,” Worth said. “We’re down to bare bones once this project gets done.”
Martins (R-Mineola) eventually succeeded in getting $4.7 million of the lost state grants restored. He said he hopes to secure $75,000 to $100,000 in grants to reconstruct the PAL center gym floor and approximately $200,000 to regrade the ground outside the recreation center, install a new drainage system and pave the parking lot.
“There’s an emotional tie here. And it’s good that we’re finally able to see shovels in the ground,” Martins said. “The memories of this center for the community are long and deep.”
Worth said that since opening in 1980, more than 2,000 youngsters had participated in PAL programs each year. Included were youngsters from New Hyde Park and surrounding communities including Garden City Park, Garden City, Mineola and the Willistons.
Damage from the floods, resulting from a sump behind the building overflowing, flooded the center’s parking lot and buckled the gym floor, severely curtailing activities at the center since 2005.
“Once it’s fixed, we want to make sure the water doesn’t come back in,” Martins said.
The Town of North Hempstead, which was originally to receive the Johnson grant, is overseeing the project and issued the request for proposal for $75,000 for engineering work being done by Hauppauge-based Cashin & Associates.
“This has been a community center for many years. This was a great place for family and friends,” said Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, who recalled celebrating his son’s birthday there. “The good news is we were able to get many levels of government to fix this place so it will be here for decades to come.”
After repairs are completed on the concrete, the new gym floor will be replaced. Then the drainage issues will be addressed.
Worth said he is hopeful that the gym will reopen by next spring.
Nicolello, who recalled coming to the center as a youngster, said the restoration’s would be a welcome development for the community.
“This is one of the very few resources in the community for young people to have recreation and birthday parties,” he said.