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Westbury unveils $526G upgraded community center as part of downtown revitalization effort

State and local officials unnounce the completion of upgrades to the Westbury Recreation and Community Complex. Credit: Johnny Milano

Westbury has unveiled its revamped community center complex, checking off a second item on the village’s to-do list to revitalize its downtown since receiving a $10 million state grant in 2016.

The upgrade, which cost $526,000, comes 10 months after the village board rezoned a blighted industrial area near the Long Island Rail Road station in December — the first project the village completed out of seven in total.

"What better way to spend some of the grant money than to invest it in our seniors and to invest it in our young people?" trustee Beaumont Jefferson said Thursday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the complex.

The main building on the campus is a community center that functions as a senior center with a war memorial outside it. The structure was built in 1903 by F. Ambrose Clark, a horse breeder and heir to the Singer Sewing Machine Co. It was first used as Clark’s home and later as a community center and a public library, according to the village.

The second building is a recreational center that hosts after-school programs and community meetings. The third is a sports center with a basketball court on the first floor and a boxing gym on the second.

The complex is on Post Avenue, the village’s main thoroughfare, and sits on the north end of Westbury’s downtown. In pre-pandemic days, Mayor Peter Cavallaro said between 250 and 300 people flow in and out of the complex daily.

"It’s a center of activity for the entire community," Cavallaro said in an interview before the ceremony. "It was very important for us to actually be able to make those improvements because there’s so much use in those facilities, and they hadn’t been upgraded for some time."

The refurbished senior center may open at the end of October, Cavallaro said, and the sports building is not expected to open until early next year. The mayor noted that the reopening plan will likely be phased in over time, with limited capacity and safety protocols in effect. The recreational center has reopened with capacity restrictions to accommodate after-school programs and community groups that want to use the space.

But when the modernized buildings are open to the public, officials promised an enhanced feel.

"We are really excited to be able to provide a better experience for kids, adults and seniors who all come here to exercise, play and spend time with their friends and neighbors," said RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the agency that administered the award that paid for the makeover.

Agnes Campbell, membership president of the senior center and who has used the community center for at least the past six years, said the renovation made the facility look bigger and lighter.

"The [seniors] that have seen it loved it," Campbell said. "It looks like a new building."

5 MORE PROJECTS TO GO

  • The Westbury Arts building is under construction and could be completed by the end of this year.
  • Facade improvement in the downtown is ongoing.
  • Streetscape improvements along Post Avenue are expected to take place next year.
  • The creation of a pedestrian plaza on Union and Post avenues has been folded into the streetscaping project.
  • The development of open space near the LIRR station is on hold and will be implemented based on proposals the village receives from developers in the rezoned area, the mayor said.

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