(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David on Tuesday announced the City will build an estimated $4-5 million-dollar youth and community center next year at Columbus Park downtown.
“This project represents a critical and unprecedented investment in Binghamton’s youth and our City’s future,” said Mayor David. “A brand new youth and community center in the City’s urban core has the potential to not only improve the outcomes of generations of young people who will grow up in Binghamton with more of the recreational and educational opportunities they deserve, but also transform a key downtown neighborhood. While recent national events have divided people across the country into factions that too often put politics ahead of progress, in Binghamton this project will be a beacon of hope for a brighter future for all kids that the entire community can rally around.”
The new youth and community center will include a gymnasium, community rooms, commercial kitchen, a locker area, offices and other amenities. City of Binghamton Parks & Recreation employees will oversee a range of programming, which may also include programming from existing non-profit organizations provided by its own staff.
The process of selecting an engineering firm for the project is underway, with the Board of Contract & Supply requesting statements of qualifications (SOQ) from interested design firms. Responses to the request are due by 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 9.
The City will work with the Change Coalition, a community group formed by Jamar Johnson after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, on potential fundraising, and collecting community input on both the project and potential programming for the new center. Mayor David will meet with residents, community leaders and the Change Coalition Wednesday as part of a series of stakeholder meetings. Additional public meetings to solicit input will also be held over the course of the next several months.
Mayor David announced his intention to site and build a fully operational youth center before the end of his time in office during his 2019 State of the City Address last February.
The new youth and community center will be built in conjunction and will complement a separate and ongoing $500,000 Columbus Park Improvement Project, which will expand and modernize the park’s playground and upgrade the picnic area. That project is also expected to break ground next year.
“The concept of a youth center in Binghamton has been talked about for years, but it has never come close to leaving the drawing board,” said Mayor David. “Regardless of the financial challenges municipalities across the country are facing due to COVID-19, this project must advance because our community needs this facility now more than ever. We cannot afford to wait. A new youth and community center combined with new park amenities will make Columbus Park a destination for children across the Southern Tier.”
The Community Foundation for South Central New York will facilitate fundraising for the project. To donate, visit: https://bit.ly/2QoUIio.
Located on Carroll Street. Columbus Park is the main neighborhood park for residents of the City’s two downtown Census tracts, which have the highest childhood poverty rates in Binghamton.
The project is expected to break ground in early 2021, when the weather permits, and should be near completion by year’s end.