In a show of commitment to East Flatbush’s young people, a community center is being built to provide a space for relaxation and learning.

On Monday, Councilmember Farah Louis announced the long-awaited center, which will be funded by money shifted out of the NYPD budget, would be built to bridge gaps in opportunity, information and technology faced my members of her community.

Photo: Office of Council Member Farah N. Louis.

“Our youth, families and seniors have waited with much anticipation for a safe space that they can call their own,” she said, of the center that will be built at Nostrand Playground.

She said the center would be a hub for learning, recreation, community and civic engagement, and would be a beacon of inspiration and innovation where everyone could connect and prosper with access to much-needed resources

“Our youth have been met with extraordinary challenges, life-altering and traumatic experiences that no child should ever have to encounter,” Louis said.

“This center is how we combat gun and gang violence, this center is how we occupy the block, this is how we stop the shootings and save lives, by taking this critical step forward.”

The center will include a indoor pool, kitchen for cooking classes, two-lane painted track, and will host fitness, youth and senior programming.

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams initially lobbied for the center when he was a council member, and Louis said she was proud to bring it across the finish line with him.

Nostrand Playground. Photo: Google Maps.

Williams secured funding and community support for the center that will be named the Shirley A. Chisholm Community Center. He said the current plague of gun violence was rooted in systemic issues that were driven by a lack of resources, opportunity and investment in communities.

“Each instance of gun violence, each life lost, demonstrated the need for a space in the community promoting youth development, not destruction – perhaps none more than the police killing of 16 year old Kimani Gray in 2013, which brought the center’s original home to Tilden Ave,” he said.

“The project was a commitment to young people, as we tried to manifest their legitimate expressions of pain into constructive community change.”

He said he hoped the center would not only become a reality, but that more spaces, especially green ones, would become a part of the East Flatbush community.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said recreation centers were the lifeblood of New York City communities. “The new Nostrand Playground in Flatbush will be a safe haven for Central Brooklynites, building on our commitment to create a fairer and safer city for all as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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  1. I agree with Jumaane. Let’s hope that this community center that should have been started a while ago at Tilden Playground but was delayed and then moved becomes a reality. We must also focus on investing in our communities right now to put a stop to the current gun violence issues and disparities that we face. The center will take a while to be built, so we must put a plan of action in now and that is what myself and others in the community are doing.

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