Community Groups Hold B’Ball Tournament to Protest Private Gym

A basketball tournament held on Henry Street yesterday wasn't just about the game. It was also meant to keep the pressure on Basketball City, a for-profit gym that has been awarded a long-term lease at Pier 36. Two groups, GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, are negotiating with Basketball City for free and discounted access for the community to the facility.

The organizations fought the city's decision to award the lease to a corporation, citing a legal agreement requiring the pier to be set aside for a community recreation center. Now they're trying to make sure Basketball City is accessible to low and middle income residents in the neighborhood.

Yesterday's event (delayed one day due to the rain) was originally supposed to include a march to the pier. But Victor Papa (Two Bridges) and Damaris Reyes (GOLES) announced that, as negotiations continue, the march was being put on hold. But Reyes said they would reserve the option of "taking to the streets," if the talks stall. Basketball City has expressed an interest in working with the community. Reyes has said she's encouraged by their willingness to have discussions, but is looking for specific commitments. Here's a brief video from the tournament, held at the Henry M. Jackson Playground: