The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School is cutting prices across all categories of membership, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), which operates the facility, has announced.
“What we have in Community Center at Stuyvesant High School is an outstanding community resource — which the community isn’t fully using,” said BPCA President Hyman. “Now, with deeply-reduced pricing for all membership types — including a further-discounted Battery Park City resident membership option available for the first time — we’re looking to expand access.”
In what the BPCA says is the first in a series of planned improvements for the facility, the cost of adult all-access membership is being slashed from $525 to $199. Additionally, for the first time, a further discount is being offered to Battery Park City residents, who will pay $179. Annual membership for seniors, youth, and military personnel is discounted to $79. Previously, seniors paid $150, while young members paid $100. (The military discount, like the special rate for residents, is being offered for the first time.) Military service members are now also able to purchase day passes for $10.
Purchase of either an annual membership or a day pass also entitles the holder to access, at no additional cost, to many group classes offered by the Community Center, including group swim lessons for children and adults, tennis clinics, yoga, badminton, total body boxing, the BPC Running Club, and more.
This announcement comes almost exactly two years after a deal, brokered by then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to save the facility was announced, in April, 2014. The previous fall, the BPCA had announced that it planned to shut the Community Center. But this news was greeted by widespread outrage, which eventually led to a reversal of the planned closure.
The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School was created by a 1987 agreement that provided for free use of a large plot of land at Battery Park City’s northern edge (along Chambers Street), where the City’s Department of Education (at that time known as the Board of Education, or BOE) would be allowed to build the new Stuyvesant High School, without paying any ground rent, as other buildings in the neighborhood must. This benefit was worth hundreds of millions of dollars and, in exchange, the BOE promised that, “the design of Stuyvesant High School shall take into account the community’s use of these facilities within Stuyvesant High School to be made available to the community. These facilities shall include: gymnasium, pool, community locker space, and auditorium. The school facilities shall be available to the community between the hours of 7pm and 10pm on regular school days and eight hours each day of the weekend. The Board of Education has agreed that no building fees shall be charged for the use of these facilities…. The Authority’s recreation staff will also assist in the programming and supervision of the school facilities to insure adequate use by the community.”
The community center’s role in Lower Manhattan evolved in the succeeding decades, during which it went from being the only public athletic facility south of Chambers Street, to one among many — although the private-sector gyms that followed it were more expensive.
Ironically, the BPCA, which by 2013 was seeking to close the Community Center, had earlier been a zealous advocate for its continuation. In 1993, the Authority sued the Board of Education to compel that agency to live up to the terms of its ground lease and make athletic facilities inside the building available to community members. A court motion filed by the Authority in that suit referred to “legally binding promises to provide… certain facilities within Stuyvesant High School” and accused the BOE of “reneging on its promise… to the public to provide access to the Community Facilities as agreed.”
But the language of the original agreement that created the Community Center did not provide any agency, including the BPCA, with clear legal authority to shut it down. At a November, 2013 meeting of Community Board 1, Paul Goldstein (who worked at the time for Mr. Silver, and is now on the staff of Assembly member Deborah Glick) said, “we had four different attorneys on the State Assembly staff review the agreement,” under which the community center was created, “and all of them agreed that this was a binding agreement without an escape clause that they could see that would allow the Authority to close the program on its own. And the agreement provides for no end date, so it appears to be enforceable in perpetuity.”
The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School includes a workout gym, a swimming pool, and basketball courts. The Community Center is open seven days per week, during hours when the Stuyvesant High School classes are not in session (from 7:00 to 9:45pm on weekdays, and 1:00 pm to 8:45 pm on weekends). More information is available by browsing ccshs.org