Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mayor David, Sen. Akshar Announce $450K Lee Barta Community Center Expansion

(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David today joined Senator Fred Akshar, United Way of Broome County Executive Director Robin Alpaugh, and Visions Federal Credit Union CEO Tyrone Muse to announce a massive expansion project for the Lee Barta Community Center at 108 Liberty St. on Binghamton’s North Side.

“Our commitment to Binghamton’s neighborhoods has never been stronger,” said Mayor Richard C. David. “We are investing in the North Side, historically one of the most disadvantaged areas in our region, to bring hope and opportunity to residents. This new community center will focus resources and empower hardworking families to pull themselves out of poverty, reach their education goals and improve quality of life. Sen. Akshar continues to be a great friend to the City of Binghamton and a fighter to improve neighborhoods across the region. I thank Ty Muse and Visions, as well as Robin Alpaugh and the United Way for committing resources for the new Lee Barta Community Center.”

The $450,000 expansion project will provide new neighborhood resources, including state-of-the-art community meeting space, classrooms, computer lab, full-size instructional kitchen, outdoor pavilion and recreation areas. The current facility, owned by the City of Binghamton and staffed by the United Way and other nonprofits, is only 1,200 square-feet. The new facility will be roughly 3,600 square-feet.

The first phase of the project includes purchase and demolition of 110 Liberty St., a vacant and blighted property next to the current facility. Demolition is scheduled to begin in early January and the entire project should be complete in the fall of 2017. The City will also host a community meeting to solicit input on final designs for the project. The meeting is set for Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:00 p.m. in the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School cafeteria, 9 Ogden St. in Binghamton.

The City is funding $100,000 of the project, through a combination of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and general operating funds.

Senator Fred Akshar has secured $300,000 in grant funds from the State and Municipal Facilities Program of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York State.

"The Lee Barta Community Center transformation is a great investment for the City of Binghamton," said Senator Fred Akshar. "By expanding the programs and services offered at the Lee Barta Community Center, we'll be able to provide better opportunities and a better quality of life for the families on the North Side. I continue to be inspired by Mayor David's commitment to improving all of the neighborhoods he serves."

Visions Federal Credit Union is providing $50,000 for construction of the Visions Community Room as part of the project. The Visions Community Room will be the home for neighborhood meetings, personal development workshops and workforce training classes.

“This is Visions’ hometown and it’s important for us to be supportive of this community by combining efforts between the public and private sectors to make great things like this happen,” said Ty Muse, President and CEO of Visions Federal Credit Union. “The leadership of Mayor David and Senator Akshar parallels what credit unions are all about – people helping people.  My hope is that the Barta Center will be a safe haven and place of learning that will afford opportunities to those who are most in need.”

The United Way of Broome County staffs three full-time employees, two AmeriCorps members and one intern at the site. As part of the expansion project, the United Way will provide expanded services.

“The United Way of Broome is 100 percent committed to improving lives on the City’s Northside as we work to provide real community impact through our ongoing programs and projects, including the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition (HLC) based at the Barta Center, initiated by the Klee Foundation in 2012 in partnership with United Way,” said Robin Alpaugh, Executive Director, United Way of Broome County. “Due to the success of HLC offerings, including Fresh Cycles bike programming for youth and healthy cooking classes for families, we’ve outgrown Barta and are excited to partner with local government leaders to expand, relying on neighborhood input for establishing a true community center.”

In 1998, the Lee Barta Center opened as a Binghamton Police substation. It was named for Patrolman Lee Barta, a Binghamton Police officer who on Aug. 3, 1995 was shot and killed in the line of duty on the same block. Barta was 29 years old.

Programs currently operating at the Lee Barta Community Center, which would be expanded with a new facility, include:

·         Fresh Cycles: Bike repair classes and group rides for children and adults.

·         Cornell Cooperative Extension Cooking Class: Parent-focused class for childhood nutrition.

·         CHOW Fresh Mobile Market: Patrons can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a reduced price at a mobile food market. Partnership with the City of Binghamton.

·         VINES Binghamton Farmshare: Weekly distribution of fresh local produce, most at a discounted rate. Partnership with VINES: Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments which grows food in urban farms.

·         Binghamton University HEARS Tutoring: Higher Education Access, Retention and Success (HEARS) tutors counsel North Side residents to reach their education and career goals. They assist individuals who have dropped out of high school or college and connect them with educational resources.

·         Promise Zone Parent Café: Helping connect parents of Binghamton City School District students. Guest presenters organize various activities (animal shelter volunteering, yoga, etc.) A healthy lunch is served at each café.

·         North Side Roots: Neighborhood assembly meeting to discuss community issues. Officials from Binghamton Police Department, Broome County District Attorney, local housing providers and more present and brainstorm ideas on solutions.

·         Excellus Health Coaching Program: 90 individuals participate to identify specific health goals. Residents work toward being official peer health coaches in the program and will then be given the opportunity to work on a certification and work with other participants as a coach.

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