U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fully approve the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's application for assistance to repair the Cromwell Recreation Center on Staten Island. Cromwell Recreation Center, which served the neighborhoods of St. George, Stapleton and Tompkinsville, was severely damaged after the Nor'easter in 2010 when the front portion of the Center's structure collapsed into the harbor, leaving these North Shore communities with significantly reduced recreation options. Although FEMA provided NYC Parks with funding for the emergency demolition a few months after the collapse, additional FEMA funding to complete permanent repairs of the recreational center have been denied. Schumer and Gillibrand are calling on FEMA to reconsider this decision and work alongside the New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM) and NYC Parks to rebuild Cromwell Recreation Center.
"Not only is Cromwell Recreation Center a historic structure, it is a recreational resource to children and adults on Staten Island," said Schumer. "The Nor'easter in March was an unfortunate incident that severely damaged the Cromwell Recreation Center and I hope FEMA steps up to the plate to help restore this vital resource. I will continue to fight tooth and nail to make sure Staten Island regains access to this great public park."
"The 2010 Nor'easter caused major damage to the Borough's most widely used recreation facility," said Senator Gillibrand. "I urge FEMA to help provide additional funds to help restore this vital resource for Staten Island families."
"We thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their continuing support for NYC Parks' applications to FEMA for disaster mitigation," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica White. "Our working relationship with FEMA and the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) has been nothing short of phenomenal, with a great deal of receptiveness to citywide needs. We appreciate both Senators pushing for FEMA to reconsider a prior denial of support for our application to rebuild or replace the Cromwell Center in Staten Island. Restoring recreational assets and programming after the demise of Cromwell remain a high priority for the Bloomberg administration, Parks, our elected officials and residents of the North Shore of Staten Island."
The George M. Cromwell Recreation Center is located at Pier 6 on Staten Island and honors Staten Island's first Borough President, George C. Cromwell. The park was originally constructed in 1934 through the Works Progress Administration initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and opened in 1936. The Cromwell Recreation Center is vital to Staten Island's residents as it is a waterside recreation center with historical significance. President Roosevelt hosted a gala ball at the Recreational Center in 1939 and Sugar Ray Robinson fought his last amateur fight there in 1940.
Cromwell Recreation Center was damaged after the Nor'easter that hit the north shore of Staten Island on March 13, 2010 during which the Center was in the process of undergoing a large renovation. In 2002, efforts were undertaken to stabilize Cromwell's structure. In April 2010, immediately after the March Nor'easter, plans were taken to further stabilize the structure. Unfortunately, in May 2010 the front portion of the structure collapsed into the harbor before repairs could be made. City and State emergency management officials successfully argued to FEMA that the collapse was a direct result of the March Nor'easter and were subsequently awarded public assistance funding for emergency work and repairs.
NYC Parks pursued additional funding from FEMA to conduct permanent work repairs on Cromwell Recreation Center, however, FEMA has denied NYC Park's request. NYC Parks, which has been working with NYSOEM, appealed FEMA's denial, supplementing its appeal with documentation from a Final Engineers Report for Cromwell that suggests the March 2010 storm "could be regarded as sole proximate cause of collapse." Schumer and Gillibrand noted that, in addition to the FEMA funding for emergency work, funding should be approved to either complete permanent repairs at the current site the damages were a direct result of the March Nor'easter. Cromwell Recreation Center has been closed to the public since the collapse in May.
Schumer and Gillibrand, today, wrote a letter to FEMA's Administrator Craig Fugate asking that the agency reconsider its decision to deny additional funding for the Cromwell Recreation Center. Schumer and Gillibrand made the case that the Center is a vital recreational resource for Staten Island and the agency should do everything it can to assist in replacing the Cromwell Recreation Center.
The letter from Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand can be found below:
September 28, 2012
The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate:
We are writing to encourage the full approval of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation application for FEMA assistance to repair or replace the Cromwell Recreation Center on the North Shore of Staten Island. This assistance project pertains to FEMA-1899-DR-NY.
As you know, the Cromwell Recreation collapsed on May 26, 2010 as a result of the March 13, 2010 Nor'easter. In 2002, early efforts to stabilize the structure were undertaken and in January 2009, engineers reported movement and cracks on the upper floor of the building, but observed on subsequent movement in the following months. Plans were developed to further stabilize the structure in April 2010, but these plans were not realized before the front façade of the structure collapsed as a result of the aforementioned storm.
We want to thank FEMA for providing NYC Parks with funding for the emergency demolition that followed the collapse at Cromwell Center. It is our understanding that NYC Parks is pursuing additional funding to repair or replace the Center, but that its initial application to FEMA was denied. NYC Parks has been working with the New York State Emergency Management Organization (NYSOEM) to appeal this incorrect and premature decision.
We urge FEMA to reconsider its decision and continue working with NYSOEM and NYC Parks to restore these vitally necessary recreational resources to the North Shore of Staten Island.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please contact us at 202-224-6542 or 202-224-4451 if you have any questions or need additional information.
Charles E. Schumer Kirsten E. Gillibrand