Richmond Parkway

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, June 5, 2007

From A Morgue To A Recreation Center

Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

On May 31, Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined City Council Member James Oddo and Commissioner Adrian Benepe to cut the ribbon on the new Greenbelt Recreation Center in Staten Island.

The $9 million, 18,000 square-foot facility is the first public recreation center built in Staten Island since the Cromwell Center in Tompkinsville opened in the 1930s. The new layout preserves historic features from the building’s previous incarnation. Its centerpiece is the former Dutch Colonial morgue, which has been reconfigured to serve as recreation, educational, and office space.

Parks & Recreation built the new center around the site of the New York City Farm Colony, an early 20th century institution used for needy New Yorkers, which was dedicated a City landmark in 1985. In order to maintain the historical significance and architectural texture of the site, the City “adaptively reused” existing structures to create the new center. For example, a wall dating to 1912 was preserved to enhance the site. The design integrates the surrounding landscape and complements the building’s Dutch Colonial style. Extensive landscaping, pathways and a new entry gate at Brielle Avenue provide an attractive surrounding for the new facility.

The 13,000 square foot recreation center includes a weight room, three multipurpose rooms for arts and crafts, dance studios, administrative offices, a locker room and rest rooms. In addition, basketball courts, two tennis courts, a soccer field, a croquet lawn and bocce courts augment the recreational opportunities available to patrons. New landscaping and pathways surround the center.

The new center is located just one block from the Greenbelt Nature Center, which opened in June 2004 as a gateway for visitors exploring Staten Island’s 2,800-acre Greenbelt. A network of pathways will connect to the Greenbelt Recreation and Nature Centers, linking all three facilities within the Greenbelt.


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut
(1922 – 2007)

Directions to Richmond Parkway

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