North End Community Center Takes Next Steps
March 13, 2019 - The New Niagara Community Center, Inc. was awarded pre-qualified status for the creation of a community center in Niagara Falls’ north-end by the Niagara Falls Community Development Department (NFCD), with application for a $120,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant as the next step.
“We are committed to creating better opportunities and spaces for our young people and families of all ages, in every neighborhood,” said Seth Piccirillo, Director of NFCD. “Community projects, advocated for and planned by the actual community, have the greatest impact here.”
The creation of a north-end community center has been long discussed, as the former community center at Centre Avenue closed over ten years ago. In 2018, the public voted for the creation for a new north-end community center during the NFCD Participatory Budgeting Process (PB360). PB360 is a democratic decision-making process of direct citizen engagement to manage public money, built through neighborhood meetings and voting. Niagara Falls is only the second American city to use participatory budgeting for CDBG spending. NFCD then released the Request for Proposals (RFQ) for the creation and operation of a community center in January 2019, with The New Niagara Community Center, Inc. as the successful applicant.
The project’s initial $120,000 funding will be provided by a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant, not municipal general fund revenue, upon completion of a full application.
The New Niagara Community Center, Inc., governed by a local board of directors, focused their application on health and wellness, youth and senior fitness, child care and functional educational/gathering spaces. “We are excited to be part of rebuilding the community center. The north-end holds a special place in our hearts. This is our community, and we look forward to being champions for change as partners with the Community Development Department,” said Kartika Carr, Vice President and Financial Secretary, The New Niagara Community Center, Inc.
The New Niagara Community Center, Inc. has gained a broad coalition of support in recent years, and is working with other funding sources to invest in a new center. “Community centers matter,” said Niagara Falls City Councilman Ezra Scott. “They play a vital role in bringing the community together, and an even greater role in building fundamental life skills for our youth.”