The ‘little senior/child care center that could’ on Ainslie Street might just have another shot at survival.
Local electeds are again giving a hard push to introduce legislation that allows the State to use eminent domain in cases like the Swinging Sixties Senior Center to prevent it from getting into the hands of developers.
For the past forty years, thousands of seniors and children, primarily low-income and long-time neighborhood residents, have been served at 211 Ainslie Street, home to the Small World Day Care Center and the Swinging Sixties Senior Center. In addition, the building also plays host to the monthly Community Board 1 Meetings.
“The community fought hard to build their facility and we continue to fight hard today to keep this center open,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, one of the chief sponsors of the bill. “As this administration works to protect the middle and low income of this city; maintaining programs that serve them has to be a priority.”
In November 2013, the building was purchased by Harry and Victor Einhorn. Representatives from the Senior Center believe the new owners want to convert the building into luxury condos. Since taking over as landlords, the duo increased the rent, a move they say is being used to force out Swinging Sixties.
Local electeds gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday morning to announce the renewed push for the legislation and to demand support for keeping the centers in the community’s hands from Mayor Bill DeBlasio. Last week, the bill cleared the State Assembly floor and is now awaiting approval in the State Senate.
“The people of Williamsburg and Greenpoint rely on the space and solace that the walls provide and are calling on the Mayor’s office for support,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who has helped keep the centers afloat in the face of rising rents. “We cannot envision 211 Ainslie being just another residential development.”
If the legislation passes, local electeds are hoping it will clear the way for the State to intervene without having to wait for the City to act.
“Now is the time for this center to be purchased so it can continue to serve thousands of seniors and children long into the future,” Lentol said. “We certainly owe it to our community to keep this center open.”