Coney Island "Y" Builds On Post-Storm Mission
While Hurricane Sandy wrecked homes and businesses in Coney Island, it also hindered plans including a new branch of one of the country's best-known community organizations. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
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A brand new YMCA is under construction in Coney Island, right across the street from the boardwalk and the ocean. So when Hurricane Sandy struck, the new building suffered.
"We had flood damage and our pool filtration system and elevator systems were damaged that set us back about four or five months," said Mel Tse of the YMCA.
Despite the delay, when the facility opens in the fall it will instantly become a gathering spot for residents still reeling from the storm.
"We're gonna do a lot of programming around healthy lifestyles but more importantly our YMCA is going to give an opportunity for community building," said Tse. "Sometimes living in New York City, a fast paced environment, we don't get the opportunity to learn our neighbors and at the Y you get to participate together and usually that results in strong friendships and a strong community.
The project includes 196 units of affordable housing as well -- something Coney Island residents are anxiously awaiting.
"My mom is really excited about that building. She actually applied to get an apartment there," said one Coney Island resident.
"This storm ravaged Coney Island real bad so it's going to be a while before we get it back together, but as far as the new building that will be very nice," said another Coney Island resident.
The YMCA is also building a new facility in the Rockaways. That site also suffered damage in the storm. The plan is to open that building this year as well.
Both facilities will offer services to help Sandy victims recover both in the short term and long term.
"Organizations like ours that will be embedded in the community long after our opening and being part of the fabric of life here really has a chance to make a positive change," said YMCA Chief Development Officer Gary Laermer.
The YMCA organization is already doing its part to help affected communities. It's collected $90,000 worth of backpacks to distribute to children in storm damaged areas.
For more information, visit ymcanyc.org.