COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The reopening of the former Cohoes Community Center, now the Gateway Sports Complex, has been delayed due to the coronavirus. The new owners said they’ll be ready to open once the government lifts coronavirus restrictions on gyms.
When the nearly 50-year-old Cohoes staple closed in 2018 because of financial hardship, it left a gaping hole in children’s and senior programs in the city. Now newly renovated, the community continues to miss out because of the pandemic.
“I hope it becomes the heart of the community like it once was before,” said Complex Director Ashley Trembley.
The community center abruptly closed in October 2018. It had more than $450,000 of debt.
“The pool came a long way; it needed a lot of work,” said Craig Roopchand, who founded the non-profit that bought the building for the price of its debt. There are several other locations downstate with a heavy focus on aquatics.
“Swimming, to me, is a life saving skill,” said Roopchand.
It’s a skill he said inner-city kids generally lack.
“It’s going to fulfill a well-needed gap in the community,” said Trudy Roopchand, wife of Craig and CFO of Gateway.
She gave NEWS10 ABC a tour of the $700,000 worth of renovations. A wall was knocked down to make room for a larger cardio space, two rooms were converted into a new weight room downstairs, a storage room was converted into a boxing studio, and there’s a fitness space, too.
“We’re going to have a bunch of different classes here, and we’re going to still make sure that we maintain six feet of distance,” said Trudy.
The coronavirus delayed construction and a planned May opening, but the Roopchands said that gave them time to adjust.
“Once we get the support from the community and the surrounding communities, I think we’ll be OK,” said Craig Roopchand.
Two things the former center didn’t have that Gateway does are air conditioning and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including a pool lift and an elevator.
“It really gives everyone an opportunity to work out,” said Trudy.
The basketball court has been re-painted with new backboards and re-finished floors.
The Cohoes Community Center offered daycare, but Gateway will only have childcare for kids whose parents are exercising, along with sports and craft programs. They’re also exploring after-school care options.
“It gets them off of the streets and allows them to be safe and be watched,” said Trembley.
From children to seniors, the Roopchands say Gateway will have something for everyone in a city that has gone without for too long.
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