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On University Avenue, a Safe Haven for Kids and Teens

April 2, 2010

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THE BUILDING ONCE HOUSED A SYNAGOGUE AND A HEBREW SCHOOL. IT WAS LIKELY BUILT IN THE 1920S, ACCORDING TO BRONX BOROUGH HISTORIAN LLOYD ULTAN (PHOTO: J. FERGUSSON)

By JAMES FERGUSSON

For decades, the former Hebrew Institute of University Heights lay empty, its windows and doors boarded up, its once elegant stone walls grimy with dirt and graffiti. But no longer.

On March 18, community leaders and local residents attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its transformation into Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club’s new community center, the Frederic R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse.

Those present included Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who now works for the Obama administration in Washington, DC. 

It was Carrion who, as district manager of Community Board 5 in the early 1990s, first started advocating for a community center in the building, located at 1835 University Ave. just north of West Tremont Avenue.

As a city councilman in the late 1990s, he got Kips Bay involved and, over the years, provided millions of dollars in funding.

“I remember seeing the building for a long time and being troubled by the fact that there was a symbol of urban decay in this part of the Bronx that the kids in the neighborhood had to walk past every day,” said Carrion at the ceremony. 

Still, it’s been a long road – nothing came easy, and the years dragged out. Carrion was tearing up a little during his speech. He said he couldn’t put into words how much it meant to him to see the renovation complete.

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DANIEL QUINTERO (LEFT) AND ADOLFO CARRION EMBRACE AT THE RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY (PHOTO: A. WATKINS)

The four-story center boasts a gymnasium, a game room with pool tables, and a computer room, among other amenities. It will accommodate 400 to 600 children a day, said Daniel Quintero, the executive director of Kips Bay, which runs another clubhouse in the southeast Bronx. (Kips Bay is also partnering with Morris Heights Health Center to provide health information to youngsters.)

The clubhouse will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The cost? Just $8 per child per year.

“We just felt that it was an underserved part of the community,” Quintero previously told the Monitor. “We all have our talent within and what I think the Boys & Girls Club does is that we tap into it and nourish it and bring it out.”

Editor’s Note:  For more information about enrolling your child at the Frederic R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse, call (718) 975-0788.

Comments

2 Responses to “On University Avenue, a Safe Haven for Kids and Teens”

  1. Janet on April 6th, 2010 11:31 am

    The “Jewish Center” had varied after-school programs in the ’60s. Religious education and worship wasn’t the building’s only function. The more things change. . .

  2. Fidel Malena on May 3rd, 2010 4:00 am

    I spent most of my life in University Avenue (20+ years – born and raised in this community), just few buildings down by this once abandoned building and am now thrilled by this news! Good coverage, Mount Hope Monitor!

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