The NYPD is building its first community center --and its happening in East New York, reports WNYC.
Located inside a former courthouse at 127 Pennsylvania Avenue, the center will occupy 17,000 square feet across three floors. For the last three years, the building has been undergoing a $10 million makeover with funds provided by the City Council as part of the 2016 East New York rezoning plan.
Geared toward youth ages 12 to 19, the center will feature a gym, basketball courts, music and dance studios, and classrooms for after school programs and other recreational activities provided by The Child Center of New York.
NYPD's Chief of Community Affairs Nilda Hofmann hopes the state-of-the-art facility, designed with input from the local residents, will foster trust and positive relationships with the community. Many young people in the neighborhood report negative interactions with officers patrolling their streets, she said, and the center hopefully will change that.
"If the young people come in through that door, that's really what's important to us," said Hofmann. "Any type of relationship and trust only happens with time."
The community center aligns with the NYPD's goal to be more community-oriented through initiatives like its neighborhood policing program and community outreach events. For Hofmann, it is important that the NYPD will now have its own space to welcome the community in.
"This is a space where we say, 'Come to our house,'" she said.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill, who toured the building on Wednesday, said the center is a response to local youth calling for more opportunities and spaces specifically designed for them. He said the center will provide something meaningful in the neighborhood.
"Young people want to feel valued," O'Neill said. "And we have to invest in them."
The center is slated to be up-and-running by the end of October; it will then be open to the public seven days a week.