8/16/2012 - Town Announces Grand Opening of the North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center

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Town Announces Grand Opening of the North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center
North Hempstead, NY– With excitement mounting about this long-awaited moment, Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Councilwoman Viviana Russell and the Town Board announce last week that the North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center, the defining icon of New Cassel’s multi-million dollar revitalization, will open September 8.

The North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center represents the efforts of thousands of stakeholders, including officials from all levels of government,” noted Supervisor Kaiman. “This facility is a poignant testament to the idea of grassroots participation and the notion that government works.”

A dream of New Cassel residents for decades, the 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art, platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility boasts an array of features, including a massive gymnasium with two NBA-sized basketball courts, a dance studio, an Internet café, a TV/recording studio and multi-purpose rental space.

The North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center has been a long time coming.

When the first wave of African Americans moved more than 50 years ago from the city to settle New Cassel—the hamlet was then mostly farmland—they craved for neighborhood mainstays that would help knit the new community.

A community center topped their wish list.

Decades later when New Cassel’s downtown corridor became the object of a massive revitalization, an informal survey conceived from the community-based planning event, “Seeking a Shared Vision for New Cassel, concluded that along with a clean, safe environment, a community center was a high priority.

As a resident at the time who participated in the visioning Councilwoman Viviana Russell noted, “It seemed like such a far off concept at the time but almost every aspect of the community’s wants and needs from the visioning 10 years ago has come to fruition and the community center is the culmination of the revitalization efforts here in New Cassel.”

As the community explored options, the old Grand Street School seemed an excellent site for a community center. Questions were raised, however, about the logic of restoring the crumbling building over erecting a new structure.

Ironically, as the name of the facility suggests, the Town never gave up, seizing an opportunity to obtain some seed money for a community center in a plan by Connecticut-based Neptune Regional Transmissions System to supplement Long Island’s power generating capacity.

The planned 65-mile long, undersea-underground electric cable ran from New Jersey under Jones Beach and ended up a converter station on Duffy Avenue in New Cassel.

Committed to making sure New Cassel residents were rewarded in return for having this facility erected in their back yard, Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Nassau County Legislator Robert Troiano negotiated with Neptune to chip in $10 million towards a community center.

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