Research by a community leader has discovered that the agreement between the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and Asphalt Green requires the operator of the athletic facility on North End Avenue to provide services to the neighborhood that have not been forthcoming.
Maryanne P. Braverman, one of the volunteers with the Battery Park City Seniors group, reviewed the contract between the BPCA and Asphalt Green that governs that latter organization’s operation of the facility, which is owned by the BPCA. She found that this agreement contains clauses requiring Asphalt Green to offer space in classrooms and its auditorium up to 35 hours per week, at little or no cost. (The fee structure is contingent upon whether for-profit or non-profit groups wish to use the space, and the BPCA has the authority to waive the fee for any group it deems appropriate to do so.)
“This projects began about three years ago,” notes Ms. Braverman, when Community Board 1 (CB1) noted that Asphalt Green was supposed to be providing services to the neighborhood. A task force group was set up, and the focus was on helping older residents of the community gain access to programs.” The work of that panel led to discussion of a broad range of possible offerings, including social gatherings, fitness classes, and cultural presentations. In the end, however, Asphalt Green chose to offer only the fitness classes for seniors, which began in the autumn of 2016. (Classes currently are held on Mondays and Fridays, at 2:00 pm; as well as on Tuesday and Thursdays, at 10:30 am.)
While Asphalt Green currently offers four hours per week of such time (as free fitness classes for seniors), it also covers the cost of instructors, and holds these classes is spaces better than the ones that its contract requires.
The ongoing discussion about Asphalt Green’s obligations to the community led Ms. Braverman, in August, to request from the BPCA a copy of their contract with Asphalt Green. “When I read it, I realized that it contained language requiring services that nobody seemed to have been aware of,” she recalls. “Specifically, it called for 35 hours per week of time within the facility for community groups.” The agreement also obliges Asphalt Green and the BPCA to designate point persons to handle requests from these groups. “The BPCA has named such a representative,” Ms. Braverman notes, citing the designation of Nick Sbordone to field requests. “But Asphalt Green has not named a staff member as the person to coordinate these requests that I’m aware of.”
“In some ways,” Ms. Braverman notes, “Asphalt Green actually is providing more than the agreement calls for. For example, they cover the cost of the instructor for the senior classes, which the contract does not require. And they hold some classes in a fitness studio, when the agreement says they are required only to provide space in the auditorium or a classroom. And both of those would be less suitable than the fitness studio is.”
But in other respects, Ms. Braverman observes, “Asphalt Green appears to be doing less than they are supposed to for the local community, by offering only four hours a week, when the contract stipulates 35 hours per week.” As a participant in senior fitness classes, Ms. Braverman says, “I am grateful for the instructors Asphalt Green provides and I certainly don’t want to see them offer any less to older residents. But even if seniors are benefiting from what Asphalt Green is doing, it seems that other groups are deriving no benefit at all.”
“My reason for bringing this matter twice to the attention of the Battery Park City Authority board is so that they might renegotiate their agreement with Asphalt Green, and also publicize how other community groups might access Asphalt Green’s space for their needs.”