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Nassau signs lease for underutilized Mitchel Field gym to be converted into youth sports center

Mitchel Field Navy Gym in Garden City, N.Y.

Mitchel Field Navy Gym in Garden City, N.Y. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/Debbie Egan-Chin

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has signed a 15-year lease with a Huntington-based youth athletic club to operate and rehabilitate the underutilized Navy Gym complex, located next to the Mitchel Field Veteran Housing Community in Uniondale.

The agreement with NY Youth Sports Network requires the nonprofit to make $1.75 million in capital improvements during the first year to the existing gym.

The lease, which will be submitted to the GOP-controlled County Legislature, calls for the construction of a new field house with additional basketball courts, concessions and classrooms and a second building with an indoor turf field.

"I look forward to the much-needed transformation of this property into a state-of-the-art facility worthy of our dedicated veterans and their families," Curran said in a statement. "With the renovations and programming presented by NYY, I am confident they will create an exciting and important community hub for all Nassau County residents — enhancing recreational and educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth while creating jobs and giving our local economy a much-needed boost in the process."

NY Youth Sports Network will pay the county $100,000 annually and has the option to extend their lease an additional five years.

Tom Rossi, founder and managing director of the Youth Sports Network, said his group will run basketball and volleyball leagues from the new facility, along with an after-school program and an event space that can be used by the county and community groups.

"This will be a place where kids can do their homework. They can come play or grab something to eat," Rossi said. "It's a place where, if kids don't have a place to go and can't get into anyplace for free and that's safe and isolated … this is a nice option."

The county currently runs the 2.3 acres gym facility, located on the north end of Mitchel Field abutting the Housing Community — which is home to 42 veteran families and 18 active military families. Nassau provides permits for groups to use the existing gym, which consists of a basketball court, two locker rooms, a weight room with exercise equipment and an outdoor pool.

The agreement allows veterans that reside on the property free use of the gym, a free week of summer camp for children under 14, free participation for residents under 16 in all in-house leagues and sports scholarship opportunities for eligible youth athletes.

NYY would also use the facilities as a hub for their AAU Urban Initiative, which uses sports to build relationships between at-risk youths in minority communities and law enforcement.

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