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Nonresident fees climb at North Hempstead community center

The Yes We Can Community Center in New

The Yes We Can Community Center in New Cassel. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Fees for out-of-towners will increase up to three times to use North Hempstead’s Yes We Can Community Center in New Cassel, a measure officials said was necessary to ensure residents receive preference to use the facility.

The new fee schedule took effect Monday but won’t apply to town residents.

The monthly pass for those who don’t live in the town now costs between $10 and $25. Previously, the fees were from $3 to $15. The daily guest rate is going from $7 up to $10. Yearly rates also have been raised for visitors to use the 60,000-square-foot facility that includes a fitness center.

For town residents, monthly fees remain the same: $2.50 for youth ages 5 to 17, $10 for young adults, and $12.50 for adults older than 25.

Despite the fee hikes, officials said the center’s rates remain competitive.

"These rates are still well below what is being offered in a traditional gym setting," Councilwoman Viviana Russell said at the Jan. 21 meeting where the town board approved the fee increase, noting "an influx of nonresidents' use" at the center.

Russell didn’t specify the extent of influx she cited for the fee hike and deferred questions to town spokesman Gordon Tepper.

The center, which opened in 2012, struggled in its early years to meet revenue projections but saw its revenue climb to more than $216,000 in 2019, including nearly $80,000 in membership fees, according to data the town provided last February.

The town didn’t provide revenue or membership data for 2020. But according to town data that tracked purchased memberships from February 2019 to February 2020, most out-of-town users came from Hempstead Town.

More than 1,000 members, or at least 13% of the total membership, were from Hempstead communities, including Valley Stream, Hempstead and East Meadow.

But the bulk of the center’s membership — 5,029 members, or 64% — came from the 11590 ZIP code that includes areas like Westbury and New Cassel.

Although the town raised commuter parking fees in Port Washington in December due to projected revenue shortfalls, Tepper said the pandemic did not drive the fee change.

"Certainly, revenues are down for virtually everyone because of COVID," he said. "However, this in particular was done just to ensure that residents would still maintain the preference that they’ve enjoyed at Yes We Can."

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