March 7, 2009Renames Newest Recreation Center in Queens for Local Olympian Al Oerter
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Council Member John C. Liu, Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Steven W. Lawitts, members of the Oerter family and recreation users of all ages cut the ribbon on the new $50-million Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing, Queens. Al Oerter was a four-time Olympian born in Astoria. Mr. Oerter (1936 - 2007) is among a handful of athletes who have won gold medals in four consecutive Olympics between 1954 and 1968.
"The Al Oerter Recreation Center is a beautiful facility that is aptly named after one of Queens' own," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This facility has first-class athletic equipment and training space including a cardio room, weights, an indoor racquetball court, a gymnasium, and an aerobics room. It's got everything an aspiring young Olympian would need to start pursuing his or her dreams. It's a very welcome addition to the Flushing and Corona community, and it's part of our effort to make recreational opportunities more widely available in all five boroughs."
"Al Oerter Recreation Center is a wonderful complement to the new pool and rink at nearby Flushing-Meadows Corona Park," said Commissioner Benepe. "The Flushing community has more ways than ever to be fit with swimming, ice skating, running, weightlifting, group fitness classes and programs for all ages. I'd also like to thank the Department of Environmental Protection for working with us to maximize the use of City land for both recreation and storm water mitigation."
"This multimillion-dollar facility is an investment in the future both above and below ground. It will improve the environment and will boost spirits and opportunities for visitors of all ages," said Queens Borough President Marshall. "Who knows what future Olympians will start to build their dreams here? For today, we take great pride in Astoria's own Al Oerter, whose name will now be known by generations to come, who will use this center. Thanks to everyone who made this center become a reality."
"It's an honor for our family to have the Al Oerter Recreation Center to open in his name. He's been an inspiration to many," said Cathy Oerter, the wife of the center's namesake. "I hope all those that walk through those doors will know the power of fair play, hard work and being at your best."
"Al Oerter was a man of exceptional integrity, humility, and kindness - a Queens native who became a legendary Olympian - and it is fitting that our new recreational center be named in his honor," said Council Member Liu. "We thank the Mayor, Borough President, DEP, and the Parks Department for their Olympian efforts in ensuring that the needs of our community were integrated into the construction of the Flushing Bay Combined Sewer Overflows facility."
"We are proud to have constructed facilities that have the twin benefits of serving the recreational needs of the surrounding communities of Flushing and Corona and of cleaning Flushing Bay and Flushing Creek, setting the stage for meeting Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC goal of opening 90 percent of our waterways to recreation," said DEP Acting Commissioner Lawitts.
The new recreation center is located near the Queens Botanical Gardens in Flushing- Meadows Corona Park. It features a cardio room, weights, an indoor racquetball court, a gymnasium, an aerobics room, an indoor track and a computer resource center. The center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. An annual membership costs $50 for adults, $10 for seniors and is free for children under 18.
The center was funded through an agreement with the City's Department of Environmental Protection. Hidden beneath the center and adjoining soccer field is DEP's Flushing Bay Combined Sewer Overflow Retention facility. Prior to completion of this facility in 2007, sewage and storm water were discharged directly into Flushing Bay during heavy rain storms. Today, more than 40 million gallons of this wastewater can be retained during a storm, and then pumped to the Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant for full treatment.