(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David today joined Senator Fred Akshar, United Way of Broome County Executive Director Jacki Gerchman and a representative from Visions Federal Credit Union to announce the completion of the Lee Barta Community Center expansion project at 108 Liberty St. on Binghamton's North Side.
“With this project, North Side residents have access to more resources than ever before and a new neighborhood space to take pride in,” said Mayor David. “The expanded center provides a place for non-profit organizations and community partners to connect meaningfully with residents right where they live, and for neighbors to connect with each other. The center is not just an anchor in a historically disadvantaged neighborhood, but also a hub of opportunity for families and individuals working to pull themselves out of poverty. I thank Sen. Akshar, Visions and the United Way for their support as we continue to invest in Binghamton’s neighborhoods.”
The $500,000 project more than doubled the size of the Lee Barta Community Center, which had become too small to accommodate growing programming. During the first phase, the City demolished 110 Liberty St., a vacant and blighted building next door, to make room for the expansion.
The upgraded center includes a full-size instructional kitchen, a community room, a computer lab, an exercise area, a space for CHOW to sell fresh produce and an expanded work space for Fresh Cycles, the educational bike program based in the Barta Center basement.
The City funded $150,000 of the project through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Senator Fred Akshar secured $300,000 in grant funds for the work from the State and Municipal Facilities Program of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York State.
"The Lee Barta Community Center transformation is a great investment for the City of Binghamton," said Senator Fred Akshar. "By expanding the programs and services offered at the Lee Barta Community Center, we'll be able to provide better opportunities and a better quality of life for the families on the North Side. I continue to be inspired by Mayor David's commitment to improving all of the neighborhoods he serves."
Visions Federal Credit Union provided $50,000 for construction of the Visions Community Room, which will be home to financial literacy classes hosted by Visions, neighborhood meetings, personal development workshops and more.
"This is Visions' hometown and it's important for us to be supportive of this community by combining efforts between the public and private sectors to make great things like this happen," said Ty Muse, President and CEO of Visions Federal Credit Union. "The leadership of Mayor David and Senator Akshar parallels what credit unions are all about – people helping people. My hope is that the Barta Center will be a safe haven and place of learning that will afford opportunities to those who are most in need."
The community center is owned by the City of Binghamton and staffed by the United Way, which coordinates programming in the space with a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles, including nutrition and exercise.
“We are excited about the newly expanded facility as a natural step in the continued growth of the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition,” said Executive Director of the United Way of Broome County Jacki Gerchman. “The new space is symbolic of our culture of community-focused initiatives addressing the concerns surrounding our community member’s health, education, and financial stability. The City of Binghamton, Mayor Rich David, Senator Fred Akshar, Visions Federal Credit Union, and everyone who contributed to this expansion of the Lee Barta Community Center designed this facility to truly celebrate and empower each other. We can’t thank everyone enough.”
The expansion will allow more nonprofit and community partners to offer programs and services at the center. New programming includes a free legal clinic held by Legal Services of Central New York and free training sessions by the Binghamton City School District’s award-winning PACT program, which provides support and education to families with young children.
Other programs offered at the Lee Barta Community Center include Cornell Cooperative Extension’s parent-focused cooking class for childhood nutrition, the Excellus Health Coaching program, exercise classes by the YMCA and Catholics Charities, VINES garden workshops and Promise Zone’s Parent Café.
In 1998, the Lee Barta Center opened as a Binghamton Police substation. It was named for Patrolman Lee Barta, a Binghamton Police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty on the same block on Aug. 3, 1995. Barta was 29 years old.
For more information and a detailed list of programming, visit www.uwbroome.org/programs/
healthy-lifestyles-coalition or www.facebook.com/eatwellplayhardbinghamton. Residents can also call the Lee Barta Community Center at (607) 238-1005.
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