We’ve waited years, and now it’s here: a brand-spanking new rec center for the Upper West Side. Today, the city opened the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center on West 60th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues. For the first week (through Saturday), access to the center is free. It’s got a pool, a gymnasium, an aerobics and cardio rooms, a computer room, and activity rooms. The project has been a multi-year process and it got funding from public and private sources, including $4.7 million from developers that constructed buildings on nearby property.
A new playground, multi-purpose field and sitting areas outside the center “is expected to begin this summer,”the city said.
The rec center is open from 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on weekends. The pool hours are listed here. There’s time set aside for lap swimming, senior hours, Learn to Swim classes and family swim programming. There had been some concern about the city using the center for lifeguard training, which would lock out locals, but it appears that the public will have daily access to the pool at certain hours, except on Sundays.
To join it costs $150 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $0 for kids under 18. More on membership here. There is no initiation or joiner’s fee.
Opening day was a but hectic, one of our tipsters wrote:
“I went by around 10:30 AM to see if I could get a membership. In spite of the gaily festooned information booths outside, I was told that the building wasn’t ready and to come back at 1:00 PM (I realize that was the official opening time).
I went back just after 1:00. It was a little hectic, there were people with membership cards trying to be the first to get in the new pool, people wanting tours, school kids, and people like me trying to get membership cards. The young staff was incredibly polite and cheery under difficult circumstances.
I managed to get a pair of applications (one each for my wife and I) and I had my wife’s license with me (you need photo ID to become a member). However then we were all informed that the computers had crashed and they could not process the applications. I was told I could leave them, or come back in an hour, or two, or three, or who knows?”
The center was first built in 1906 but began to deteriorate in the 1990’s and has been closed since 2009 for the renovations.
It is now named after the first woman to swim the English Channel: “The center has been renamed in honor of Gertrude Ederle, who grew up near the building in the early 1900s. An avid swimmer, Ederle competed in the 1924 Olympics and was the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926. She learned how to swim by watching others at local pools, and through this recreation center named in her honor, children will be able to advance in sports, fitness, and healthy living.”
Mel Wymore, who chaired the task force on the rec center, said that the long community effort to fund and rehab the old building paid off in the long run, kind of like swimming the English channel: “I feel it’s an apt metaphor for the journey we’ve all taken here for this center. All I can say is, ‘Land at last!’”
Thanks to Denton for the photos (photo of workout area and ribbon-cutting via the city).