Peekskill’s Planning Commission has given the green light to a plan to transform the Peekskill Housing Authority’s Kiley Youth Center at 709 Main St. into a modern facility that would be leased to the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester in order for it to operate a club in the city.
Chappaqua-based Wilder Balter Partners would handle the construction work in connection with a $50.8 million affordable housing project it is building on neighboring property at 645 Main St.
The project would involve two additions to the existing facility, one with a 950-square-foot footprint and the other with an area of 835 square feet.
In addition, extensive interior renovations would take place, including filling in an atrium area to create new floor space in the existing structures.
The Kiley Center consists of two connected buildings. The original structure was built in 1959 and has approximately 9,060 square feet of space on three levels. The second building, which was constructed in 1996, has 8,160 square feet of space. The plan would enlarge the facility’s interior space to 23,327 square feet.
Debra Post, chairperson of the Peekskill Industrial Development Agency, made a presentation to the Planning Commission describing what was being proposed.
“There are multiple goals,” Post said. “One is that we are looking to expand and maximize any useable program space within the building. Second, we wanted to take care of all health and safety concerns within the building. Third, we wanted to make sure that the building was very safe and secure and we wanted to make the building handicapped accessible which it is not right now.”
She said that the Boys & Girls Club had asked that four classrooms be included in the center along with the recreational spaces.
Planning Commission members expressed concerns that the plan did not depict handicapped parking and Post said that the Housing Authority could ask the city to assign space on Main Street in front of the building. Post also said she would be checking with Wilder Balter regarding handicapped access to the building from the parking garage at the apartment building.
“Most of the children walk. We are proposing a drop-off area that will fit probably two cars,” Post said. “There are people parking on Main Street. We were told by the Boys & Girls Club that parents aren’t there (at activities). They’re generally just dropping off.”
Luis Segarra, chairman of the Peekskill Housing Authority, said, “What we are looking to do is make a site that will expand the possibilities for our youth, expand the feelings of hope and achievement of our youth, use the site to expand the safety net for mothers and fathers all over the city knowing that their children are in a safe environment.”
The Planning Commission voted in favor of a negative declaration regarding environmental impacts and granted site plan approval with seven conditions that included adding handicapped parking and creating final lighting, landscaping and signage that meets the approval of the city’s planning director.
The project to renovate and expand the Kiley Center was designated to receive $1.5 million in funding as part of New York state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative that was awarded to Peekskill in 2019. Andrew M. Cuomo, who was governor at the time, went to Peekskill to announce that the city was awarded the funds.
In addition, the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved $2.5 million in funding for the project. The Peekskill staff report did not state what current estimates are for the total cost of the project.
The Kiley Center’s gymnasium would remain and the rebuilt interior spaces would include multipurpose rooms, a cafeteria and commercial-grade kitchen, new restrooms, office spaces and everything else needed for a fully functional youth center.
A new one-story, glass-enclosed area will be added to the front of the building to be used for gatherings. The Wilder Balter apartment building would dedicate 14 parking spaces in its garage for use by the estimated 14 on-site staff of the Peekskill Boys & Girls Club.
The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester would continue operating as it has at 351 E. Main St. in Mount Kisco. It was established in 1939 and serves youth from the ages of 6 months to 18 years of age who live in approximately 40 northern Westchester communities.