With a miniature golf course placed throughout the neighborhood, interactive games projected on the entranceway floor, a shining new gymnasium, and a soon-to-be-completed playground and athletic field, the new Seneca Babcock Community Center is designed to keep kids active. Officially open in August, the Seneca-Babcock Arlene Mychajliw Community Center is a brand-new facility that provides a safe, engaging place for young people in a neighborhood that has few parks and opportunities for athletics and movement.
Brian Pilarski, Executive Director of the Seneca Babcock Association says the new $4.5 million Harrison Street facility was designed to meet the needs of neighborhood families for out of school hours with health and wellness in mind. He points out that soda and candy machines were nixed in favor of bubble hockey and foosball in the new space. The Center houses the association’s afterschool and art programs and will be used for events and activities for the neighborhood including the organization’s popular and championship cheerleading team.
While bordering communities such as Larkinville and South Buffalo have experienced investment and revitalization, the Seneca Babcock neighborhood continues to struggle with poverty and disinvestment. The newly constructed Community Center is one of the few places that offers a safe place, engaging activities, and an alternative to kids to being home alone or on the street that is sorely needed in the area.
“We have the chance to introduce our kids to new sports like pickleball and lacrosse, while providing better facilities for activities for our afterschool programs and for kids who just want to drop in and be active,” says Pilarski, “This provides a positive place, especially for young people whose alternative may be going home to an empty house.”
In addition to the Community Center building, there will also be an outdoor roller hockey court, basketball court, athletic fields, and a traditional playground just outside the Center and currently under construction. Partnerships with Algonquin Sports and WNY Lacrosse Foundation will bring new sports to the Center and introduce neighborhood kids to organized sports as well as a place for pick-up games.
The Center is named for the mother of Dr. Daniel Alexander who grew up in the neighborhood and is one of the organization’s most dedicated supporters. The Center was also made possible through support from The John R. Oishei Foundation, the Cullen Foundation, local businesses, individual donors, and the City of Buffalo.