Wednesday morning volunteers were getting their hands dirty, renovating the playground. It’s a place that meant so much to Cassandra Williams, a Schenectady resident, and school district employee. Williams two children attended the center growing up.
“We want it make it a sanctuary, a place that a kid can just be a kid. If this is going to help get kids off the street, I’m all for it,” said Williams.
Carver Community Center, located in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill, closed back in 2013. A non-profit grassroots group, Miracle on Craig Street, purchased the center last year and is moving forward with renovations to provide a haven for those living in Schenectady.
Miracle on Craig Street’s Director Rosa Rivera says, “It left such a void in the neighborhood and everybody was like up-in-arms about it being closed, which is how we really started to fund-raise to reopen it.”
The Carver Community Center has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places following a review by the National Park Service.
“What this means is that Carver is not going anywhere,” said Sheila Rivera, board member for Miracle on Craig Street, the non-profit group working to reopen the building. “That structure is going to stand. It’s great for Hamilton Hill — we knew that the building was special.”
Cleanup of the shuttered Carver Community Center took place on Tuesday as the group behind its renovation was getting it ready for contractors to walk through.
Several students from the Schenectady Working In Neighborhoods program — also known as Schenectady-WIN — were on hand assisting in the effort. Much of their responsibility was to clean and gut the building to get it prepared for renovations.
The Carver Community Center, along with a Rensselaer County textile mill site and the old National Biscuit Company complex in Albany have been nominated to the State and National Registers of Historic Places by the State Board for Historic Preservation.
At the Carver Community Center, a fallen tree limb blocks the path to the main entrance. One door is splashed with red and yellow graffiti; another bears an old notice announcing the closure of Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill library branch inside. The playground down the street is choked with weeds, and behind the chain-link fence, the vegetation grows high enough to obscure the welcome sign.
Miracle on Craig Street organizer Rosa Rivera wants to change all that.
The recent shooting spree in Hamilton Hill that claimed the life of a teenager has reignited conversation about the need for a safe haven where youngsters can study and play sports instead of hanging out on the streets.
Hamilton Hill’s only community center will go on the auction block next week.
The Carver Community Center, located at 700 Craig St., was a neighborhood gathering place that housed a day care center and a county library branch, ran after-school programs, taught children to avoid drugs and alcohol, and provided counseling services.
The nonprofit owed a significant amount of money to vendors and the IRS when it locked its doors for good in December of 2013.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge made one final attempt Wednesday to auction off the Carver Community Center, but again found no takers.
The final attempt in the federal court means the fate of building is now expected to be decided in state court, with the possibility of foreclosure for unpaid taxes, according to an attorney involved in the case.