Volume 20, Number 35 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 12 - 18, 2010
Photo courtesy of Asphalt Green
A rendering of the gym at Asphalt Green Battery Park City, the community center scheduled to open in January 2012.
Survey gives public chance for input on center programs
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The community center now being built on the west side of the Battery Park City ball fields in the Liberty Luxe/Liberty Green residential complex is just a shell. No final determination has been made as to what programs the facility will offer when it opens in January 2012.
But Asphalt Green, the organization chosen by the Battery Park City Authority to manage the community center, is trying to fill in the blanks by asking the people of Lower Manhattan what programming they would like to see.
A few weeks ago, Asphalt Green posted a survey on its website asking respondents for their interest in activities that include sports of various kinds, swimming lessons, cooking classes, cultural offerings (dance, theater, writing), holiday and summer camps, media instruction and more.
So far, around 200 people have filled out the survey. It will be posted until March, according to Christina Klapper, Asphalt Green’s marketing director.
“It would be unwise of us not to look at the survey seriously,” said Carol Tweedy, Asphalt Green’s executive director. “At the same time, whenever you do a survey, you have to understand the sampling errors that you get with it. Some people who are likely to be users will never go near a survey. It’s one piece of important information, but it’s only one.”
After the programming line-up has been determined, Asphalt Green will be able to get a handle on the costs of operation and this will determine how much it will cost to be a member of the community center, to use the recreational facilities and to attend classes there.
In October 2009, when the Battery Park City Authority, which owns the community center, signed Asphalt Green to manage it, membership fees of $1,200 to $2,400 were mentioned. Now those numbers are off the table.
“We don’t know yet what the fees will be,” Tweedy said. “We wrote the initial financial plan in the fall of 2008. The city and the country have had a change in economic circumstances, so whether the numbers are right or wrong, they all have to be revisited. We’re just starting to unpack that again now.”
Tweedy said that it would be necessary to lock down the budget by June so that marketing materials could be prepared and preparations made to implement the community center’s programs. Tweedy added, “There could be some shifting of the product that happens all the way through late 2011. Some of the services will be delivered through partnerships between Asphalt Green and other organizations, and their environment may shift. I’ll know it’s locked down when we open our doors.”
The Battery Park City Authority will have final approval of the exact operating budget for the first year of operation, Tweedy said. “We are absolutely dedicated to making sure that the membership fees are affordable to the Battery Park City community,” said Leticia Remauro, B.P.C.A. spokesperson.
She said that if the community center makes a profit, it would be shared by Asphalt Green and the Authority. Initial projections for the community center did not assume that a profit would be possible before year four of Asphalt Green’s five-year contract.
Part of any anticipated profit was to come from operating a summer camp, which, on the surface, would put Asphalt Green Battery Park City in competition with Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center at 120 Warren St. that has long had both day camps and a sleep-away camp.
However, Anthony Notaro, chair of Community Board 1’s Community Center Task Force didn’t see a problem. “Bob Townley [director of the Downtown Community Center[ has been working with Asphalt Green to figure out where there’s overlap and where there’s complement,” he said. “There’s a baby boom going on in this neighborhood. I don’t see this as competition. I see it as additional seats.”
Any summer programming, and indeed, any outdoor programming would require access to the Battery Park City ball fields. For a while, this seemed to be a contentious issue. Now it seems to have been resolved.
“The existing users — the Little League, the Soccer League, Townley’s usage — they are being grandfathered,” Notaro said. “They will have the time they traditionally had. Asphalt Green is not in charge of the fields. The Battery Park City Authority determines who uses them and when. If there’s free time there, [Asphalt Green is] welcome to apply for it.”
The survey is at http://www.asphaltgreen.org/batteryparkcity.