As the Holiday season and New Year approaches, the time comes to reflect on how the Parks Department has served New York City youth and low income residents since this past summer, in particular, Lost Battalion Hall in Queens. (See previous story)
During a meeting (which included a representative from Congressman Dromm’s office, boxing coaches and other concerned parties), regarding the June closure of the historic Lost Battalion Hall Boxing Program, Chief of Recreation Iris Rodriguez argued that the stuffy, dungeon-like, low-ceiling-ed, foundation-columned, corner basement boxing area that cost the city only $5,000 a year to maintain could be used to better serve the public.
The reasoning and the improvement plan:
1. Bicycles for Spinning would open up more opportunity for woman.
(If that had actually happened, no one in their right mind would have showed up. The environment is claustrophobic, loud music is prohibited, and on top of this the cost of equipment and instructors would be far greater than the 5 Grand a year to keep the boxing program running.)
2. The same group of boxing members usually uses the program.
(The same “members” of “any” programs usually use that program. The notable difference with the weightlifting program; coaches volunteer and save the city any fees.)
3. Paying membership had dwindled.
(Not only does this miss the point of a youth and low-income program, but even if membership fluctuates 200-50-100, it should still cover the cost of the program.)
4. Youth can go to local private boxing gyms.
(A list of not-so-local boxing and martial arts gyms was provided to members. NYC Park membership plus Boxing Membership: $150 a year. Private boxing gyms: $80 a month, instructor fees separate.)
So, for summer vacation, and for autumn and winter after-school, what did the NYC Parks Department provide youth as a replacement for the historic boxing program?
An additional ping pong table
Simply stated, “It is a disgrace,” says Tony Paolillo a former trainer at the facility, “What’s more, the space is only used by Senior Citizens when there is a late-night overflow from other ping pong tables. Otherwise it stays empty.”
Local politicians are still taking an interest in this issue.
To be continued.
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