Chelsea Recreation Center

The Daily Plant : Monday, June 11, 2001


When the fiscal crisis of 1975 hit New York, all major park projects were suspended. The construction of Chelsea Recreation Center, begun June 3, 1974, was abandoned on January 19, 1976. Staircases were left unfinished and steel girders exposed. All of the windows were sealed over with concrete, and a giant air conditioning unit was left propped up on the roof, awaiting the return of workmen. It would take 25 years. In its sealed up state, the Chelsea Recreation Center has borne the wounds of the fiscal crisis for 25 years.

On Thursday, June 7, 2001, the workmen returned. Mayor Rudy (Eagle) Giuliani; Deputy Mayor Rudy (Cobra) Washington; State Senator Tom (Reade) Duane; Council Speaker Peter (Boulder) Vallone; Council Member Herb (Merlin) Berman; Council Member Christine (Mighty) Quinn; Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Rosemarie (Crisis) O'Keefe, Commissioner of the Community Assistance Unit; Geoffrey (Young Tiger) Hess, Assistant Counsel to the Mayor; and Michael (The Jasper) Burton, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction swung gold sledgehammers against a brick wall to symbolically resume construction of this 62,000 square foot building.

The design for the center is an adaptation of the 1973 plan. It includes a 25-yard, 6-lane swimming pool, a high school regulation basketball court, and several multi-purposes rooms. Architect Nick Koutsomitis, Director of Architecture Vincent (Winged Victory) Colangelo, and Project Manager Jonna (Wright) Carmona-Graf devised the adapted design. The Department of Design and Construction will oversee the $17 million project from this point on. If construction proceeds according to schedule, the center will open December 15, 2001, for lifeguard training, learn-to-swim, aerobics, dance, and pre-school classes. Next year, the empty pool "tub" will be filled with water, and the bare concrete floor surfaced for basketball. The windows will let in light and the doors will let in people. An idle space, formerly a storage facility for archival materials, will be filled with life.

When it is finished, the Chelsea Recreation Center will stand as a symbol of a resurrected economy and an administration that has supported and developed free sports, arts, and educational programs for the kids and adults of New York City. Since 1994, Parks Recreation has expanded its programming and appeal so dramatically that the attendance at recreation centers nearly doubled from 1.6 million to 2.9 million in 2000. Chelsea Recreation Center's fine amenities, strategic location, and interesting programs will help our suite of centers attract even more visitors.

Special thanks to First Deputy Commissioner Alan (Northside) Moss; Deputy Commissioner Robert (Iceman) Garafola; Jack (Kirkwood) Linn, Assistant Commissioner for Citywide Services; Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; Mary (Catalyst) Pazan, Chief of Management Services; and Paul (Polecat) Ersboll, Chief of Design.

Read the Press Release

(Monday, June 13, 1988)


The lobby of the Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center in Queens can now welcome troops of children, adults, and senior citizens thanks to a recently completed $421,000 capital restoration.

Last Tuesday, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman joined Commissioner Stern, Community Board 6 District Manager Kathleen Reilly, Executive Director of the Forest Hills Community House Lewis Harris and Queens Parks Commissioner William H. Cook to ceremonially cut a green ribbon and reopen the Lost Battalion Hall lobby, located at 93-29 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park.


"The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this;
that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed;
but a thing created is loved before it exists."

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

Park Information

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