Reclaim youth and community programs at the NYC Fort Washington Armory
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Reclaim Youth and Community Programs at the NYC Fort Washington Armory
This video filmed in January 2019 and featured in the petition explains the wrongful eviction of Growth and Development Services (GDS), as well as the mismanagement of The NYC Fort Washington Armory, a city-owned building that was designed and created to be a community center for the benefit of the community and its members. In the summer of 2019, GDS and its youth participants were locked out of their community space. The wrongful eviction was coordinated by the Armory Foundation, Mayor Bill de Blasio Steven Banks from Human Resources Administration (HRA)/Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and public officials.
From 2002-2019, The Fort Washington Avenue Armory was home to GDS, which provides mental health, youth development, and intergenerational programs for marginalized youth and their families. In March of 2019, Dr. Gary Altheim GDS Founder and Executive Director were interviewed on WNYC, The Brian Lehrer radio show talking to Mayor de Blasio. The Mayor promised to look into it and then two days later GDS's mental health services were wrongfully evicted. Click here to listen to the show and Mayor de Blasio's willful blindness.
Having observed how the Armory Foundation routinely denied youth access to the Armory services, GDS representatives began to research the public facility’s actual ownership. When GDS launched a public campaign against the underutilization of this public space, the Armory Foundation and the City of New York City evicted GDS from its 17-year home at the Armory.
Please SIGN THIS PETITION to help advocate for mental health services and equal access to essential programs and the utilization of public space. The mismanagement of the NYC Fort Washington Armory at 168th Street, a 2-acre city-owned building, is an example of social injustice and profit over people.
Please help marginalized youth and families in dire need of community space and supportive services in Northern Manhattan and NYC. This vulnerable population has extensive disparities because of a lack of access to recreational, educational, mental health, and professional development programs. The toxic environmental and social injustices exacerbate the challenges facing inner-city youth and community members.
Please SIGN THIS PETITION to reclaim the NYC Fort Washington Armory and community programs that were meant to be for the residents of NYC since 1993. THIS IS YOUR BUILDING, take it back! Let’s reclaim this building and turn it into the Heights Community Center!
According to the NY Times, in 1993 this city-owned building, the NYC Fort Washington Armory, more commonly known as, “The Armory,” and “New Balance Track and Field Center,” was repurposed as a community center, homeless shelter, and in part indoor track to serve New York City high school track students and community members. NYC’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) owns the building and placed The Armory Foundation in charge of managing the indoor track while NYC’s Department of Parks and Recreation was assigned the responsibility of managing community access to the rest of the building. Unfortunately, over time the Armory Foundation privatized this public space prioritizing profit over people. As per the mandate in its license, The NYC Fort Washington Armory is supposed to offer free community services to the residents of Northern Manhattan and NYC.
Given COVID-19 and social injustices that have plagued our City and Nation, imagine the benefits youth and families would have from a community center in their neighborhood; a safe haven that provides free mental health, college preparation, career exploration, elder services, leadership development programs and more!
The NYC Fort Washington Armory is located in a predominantly Latinx and Black neighborhood composed of hard - working class people. This 2-acre community space with many rooms that sit empty the majority of the time has been available for the past 27 years and most people have no idea of its existence. This critically important resource is needed now more than ever.
The NYC Fort Washington Armory is a city - owned building whose support and services are funded by your tax dollars, meaning ALL NYC RESIDENTS HAVE A RIGHT TO UTILIZE THIS SPACE.
Please SIGN THIS PETITION to reclaim the NYC Fort Washington Armory and community programs that were meant to be for the residents of NYC since 1993. THIS IS YOUR BUILDING, take it back! Let’s reclaim this building and turn it into the Heights Community Center!
On behalf of the community that the NYC Fort Washington Armory was meant to serve,
- Reclaim GDS' space at the NYC Fort Washington Armory and reinstate their FREE mental health services
- Reclaim the building as the Community Center it was meant to be
Insist the City make good on the original mandate of the building, and provide supportive services for the youth, adult families, and people suffering from homelessness
- Provide open access to The Armory college prep program to all youth in the community, not ONLY student - athletes
- Grant use of the theater and other rooms for community space, free of charge, when the track is not being used - as indicated in license
- Make the premises available for use by the Department of Parks and Recreation for the benefit of the community at the times that do not conflict or interfere with the activities to be conducted by licensee, The Armory Foundation
- Subsidized or grant free space for nonprofits serving the needs of the surrounding community
- Prioritize hiring of local residents
- Give more access, at no cost, to the track for student-athletes in NYC
- Discontinuation of the privatization of the space and utilize only as intended in the mandate as, “only for the purpose of operating an indoor track and athletic facility... and for no other purpose”
- A redirection of funding to the community, rather than The Armory Foundation and its high paid directors and staff
- Creation of more equitable initiatives to ensure access to this Public building and community resources
Given recent advocacy efforts, an investigative reporter from THE CITY released an article on GDS eviction, and oversight of the Fort Washington Avenue Armory on March 15, 2021.
"Washington Heights Armory on Defense Over Who Gets to Use Space" By Rachel Holliday Smith
The article above calls into question the usage of the Fort Washington Avenue Armory, a city-owned building that was originally meant to be a community center.
The Armory Foundation has used the building for events including fashion shows, film shoots and weddings, according to its website. Neighborhood organizations have said for years they’ve been priced out the sprawling 1911 armory building.
The investigative reporter points out, "The Armory Foundation has used the building for events including fashion shows, film shoots and weddings, according to its website. Neighborhood organizations have said for years they’ve been priced out the sprawling 1911 armory building." This article also exposed, "an ongoing 2018 lawsuit from Growth and Development Services (GDS) — a group that claims it was wrongly evicted from the space — says the Foundation failed to pay as much as $412,000 in taxes on income it earned from event rentals."
The Armory Foundation, a nonprofit, and licensee of the building have privatized this public space and shut out much of the community while the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and public officials have turned a blind eye. The Armory Foundation appears to be representing themselves as the owner of the space in this 2-acre city - owned building. For example, they say on their website rent OUR space. Their web site name is even misleading in the context of their mismanagement of this city-owned building, the web address is www.armory.nyc.
While the Armory is known for its renowned track competitions, the community of Washington Heights is often left out of this valuable exposure. Track teams must pay an exorbitant amount of money per hour to use the track and residents must pay an admission fee to see the track competitions. As a result, the wealthier communities of Westchester and Long Island have more access and opportunities than the local community it was meant for.
The non-student athletes of Washington Heights and surrounding communities are also excluded from participating in the majority of Armory Foundation’s educational, fitness and college readiness programs. The Armory Foundations’s College Prep Program excludes non-track students from this most needed resource. The college prep program, however, is only available to athletes that use the NYC Armory’s track.
According to the Uptown Collective, the Armory received funds from the Port Authority to build and organize the program, “on a large- scale for kids in the community, regardless of whether they run track or not.” At Manhattan Community Board 12 meetings and other community events, the Armory Foundation staff has repeatedly stated that these resources are only available to athletes that use the track.
Why is a publicly funded program in a city-owned building shutting out many city youth and local residents?
Legal Background Information
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, obtained by Phil Zablocki, Chairman of Advocates for Equity and Integrity, revealed the true owner of the building and the travesty that is taking place at the NYC Fort Washington Armory. Zablocki presented his investigation into the NYC Fort Washington Armory at a Community Board 12 meeting in December 2018. Zablocki was born and raised in Washington Heights and has been advocating for social justice in the Armory for years and speaking regularly at Manhattan Community Board 12.
Zablocki’s FOIA requests revealed a smoking gun in the 2002 License Agreement between DHS and the Armory Foundation. Unbeknownst to even the Mayor’s Office and Community Affairs Unit, the license stated the Fort Washington Armory is a city-owned building through the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). It validated that The Armory Foundation is only a licensee of space in the Armory and charged with providing janitorial and security services to the other non-profits in the building. Most residents surveyed in the community believe that The Armory Foundation owns the building, as they seem to represent themselves in that manner. Again, this 2002 license agreement between DHS and the Armory Foundation, lays out the guidelines of what the Armory Foundation is, and is not, allowed to do at the NYC Fort Washington Armory. This license also revealed what areas they have, and do not have, jurisdiction over inside the Armory.
Based on the plain language of the Agreement there is no justification for the Armory Foundation to charge the public any fees for areas not within their jurisdiction. Only the organizations listed in the original license agreement are required to pay fees, and the fees should only be for janitorial and security purposes. The Armory Foundation does not have rights to the entire building and does not have the authority to rent out spaces in the building, without the landlords (DHS) permission.
The Armory Foundation regularly rents out space in The Armory for private events. The agreement allows the Armory Foundation to use specific areas of the Armory only as New York City High School Track Center and to operate the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, but not for renting out space for private, non-track related events not under their jurisdiction. It has also been reported that the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, which received millions in public and private funding to move the Hall of Fame to the NYC Armory in 2002, has not been following its mandate. In an article by Ken Stone, entitled, National T&F Hall of Fame should be pulled amid Armory shame, the Hall is a bust; “it is closed 90% of the time”.
According to Article 4 in the Armory’s Foundation and DHS’ license agreement, it states that the Department of Parks and Recreation is allowed to use all areas of the NYC Fort Washington Armory for the benefit of the community, at times that do not conflict or interfere with activities of the Armory Foundation’s track events and areas delegated to them.
As many community members who have been in the NYC Fort Washington Armory know it often sits empty and underutilized a majority of the time. However, there are concerts, bar exams, graduation ceremonies, and events that bring revenue to The Armory, which is an example of profit over people.
The community should be asking where all the money went from the public, private, and government funds as well as the income from the venue rental. There is a valid concern that the Armory Foundation is more concerned about profit than the people in the community. This is backed by their financial statements, available publicly on guidestar.org; tax records show that the top 4 employees of the Armory Foundation together make approximately $1 million a year.
Furthermore, The 2002 license agreement shows that the Armory Foundation has been wrongly charging community residents and nonprofits to use the building and turning away community groups from using the building at all. Evidence shows that the Armory Foundation has been renting out areas of the Armory for private events.
Advocates for Equality and Integrity has a plethora of documentation showing that the public officials and Manhattan Community Board 12 have done little to nothing to address the social injustice and systemic racism that has occurred at the NYC Fort Washington Armory. In this video, Phil Zablocki, describes his more than a 4-year investigation into the NYC Fort Washington Armory.
WE NEED THE VOICE OF THE COMMUNITY please sign and share this petition.
Media/ Press Documents
New York Daily News reported in 2014, in an article entitled, "Uptown Community Groups Slam Washington Heights armory for Charging Big Bucks to Use Facility,” that a city-owned armory in Washington Heights played host to the hotly-anticipated Alexander Wang Fashion show last month, but local groups say they often can't use the space or are charged big bucks if they do.
In another news outlet, DNAInfo.com, published an article titled "Nonprofit Groups Say They're Being Priced Out of Ft. Washington Ave. Armory." This article reported that various nonprofit organizations have spoken on the underutilization, overpricing, and residents being denied access to the Fort Washington Armory. These complaints were made by community residents and groups that had been negatively affected by the elitist actions of the Armory Foundation. These outrageous prices for the use of the space add stressors to a neighborhood that is already being gentrified.
Community-based Organization providing Free Services Unjustly Evicted
A small non-profit, community-based organization and licensee in the building, Growth and Development Services (GDS) has been advocating for the proper use of this building since it developed its license with DHS in 2002. GDS occupied a small office at the NYC Fort Washington Armory for their mental health, youth development, advocacy, and intergenerational programs. GDS blew the whistle on the Armory Foundation and DHS after seeing how the community was being shut out.
These essential programs were disrupted after GDS was featured in a Spectrum News NY1 story in December of 2018. The article discussed the Armory Foundation’s misuse of the building and the lack of community access. GDS was not involved with the reporting of that story. In response to the report, the Armory Foundation said it offers its own programs for neighborhood children.
In January of 2019 GDS received an eviction notice from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which administers the building. Supporters of the educational youth program say it was evicted from their space because its founder and Executive Director, Dr. Gary Altheim, called attention to the improper use of the facility.
An article in the Manhattan Times Angst at the Armory: Looming Eviction Reignites Community Concerns further describes the eviction of GDS, confusion about lack of oversight, utilization of the building, and information revealed in Freedom of Information Law request. Mike Hano, a regular attendee of Community Board 12 (CB12) meetings, said issues concerning the NYC Fort Washington Armory have circulated for years and pointed out that, “the Armory Foundation, which occupies space in the building, has no agreement to sublicense or rent out parts of the building to other entities.”
Dr. Gary Altheim spoke directly to Mayor Deblasio on the Brian Lehrer Radio show in May of 2019, where Deblasio said he would have his team follow up with GDS regarding their eviction, but never followed through with assistance: Mayor De Blasio Allows the Termination of Most needed Mental Health Programs
Dr. Altheim, says the building needs to be more community-based seeing the profound need in the area. Click here to see a video describing the history of the Armory and GDS unjust eviction. Altheim, who has been raising these issues for several years, said: “This is a building that was meant to be a community center, not a private venue rental space.” Altheim’s comments reinforced the longstanding mandate as cited in a 1993 NY Times Article: Neighborhood Report: Washington Heights; From Armory to Homeless Shelter to Social Center by Emily M. Bernstein. According to the article, “Many residents see this public space as a chance to provide much-needed housing and community space, as well as a day-care center and employment counseling in an area with little available space. Because of its size, this was a real chance to do neighborhood development in a more comprehensive way than just creating housing."
SIGN AND SHARE THIS PETITION TO RECLAIM THE NYC FORT WASHINGTON ARMORY
During these difficult times, we can not lose hope. We need to enact the necessary change in leadership by working as a community to force our local politicians and Community Boards to have moral leadership and intellectual honesty. We must fight against the corruption in our City and specifically the social and institutional injustices at NYC Fort Washington Armory.
Signing this petition is the first step in fighting for social justice. We appreciate your attention to this crucial matter affecting youth, adults, and families in our community. We hope you can help shed light on our concerns to help educate the public and possibly find answers and solutions to some of the injustices we have observed in our neighborhood.
Please sign and share this Petition and help advocate to reclaim the NYC Fort Washington Armory as the community center it was meant to be. Help ensure that the residents of Northern Manhattan receive the essential services and community space they are entitled to.
Original letter sent to "Whom it May concern" from John Doe, in 2014.
This letter we believe was sent by someone in the track world not from Fort Washington.
-------------------------------FROM JOHN DOE--------------------------
From: John Doe
Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Subject: 168th Street Armory / Armory Foundation
To: <a href="mailto:email@example.com" rel="nofollow">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>
To Whom It May Concern:
We, residents of New York City want to commend Lindsay Armstrong on her article, “Nonprofit groups say they’re being priced out of Fort Washington Avenue Armory”. <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141030/washington-heights/nonprofit-groups-say-theyre-being-priced-out-of-ft-washington-ave-armory" rel="nofollow">http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141030/washington-heights/nonprofit-groups-say-theyre-being-priced-out-of-ft-washington-ave-armory</a> Unfortunately, they are not the only groups being priced out of the facility. Many of the schools and organization that have or desire to use the facility have the similar concerns and complaints. They have continued to see their rental fees increase each year, diminishing accessibility. Paul Griffin couldn’t state it any better when he said, “What is going on there is an atrocity”. The 168th Street Armory has become a high profiting money-making machine for upper management. Unfortunately, it seems that a facility and programs intended for equal access has created an “If you can’t pay then you can’t play” environment. As Dr. Norbert Sander points out, “this is the New York City track, the most famous and best used indoor track in the country.” The track should be priority for the children in New York City, but he has lost sight of his original goals. Armory leadership has also lost sight that the facility has and will always be part of the Washington Heights community. “It just happens to be in Washington Heights?” Has he forgotten how much the community and the community board have helped him over the years? By the end of this letter, we are hoping that you will have a better understanding of Armory management and policies.
a. The Armory Foundation has an open-ended agreement with New York City and falls under the Division of Homeless Services.
b. The foundation does not have to pay a rental fee to the city nor does it have to pay for heating, electricity, fire alarm or the sprinkler system services.
c. Any emergency repairs to the building will be paid for by the City of New York. The homeless shelter must remain in the building and occupies half of the first and second floor.
d. The original name of the Foundation was the Armory High School Sports Foundation and its mission was to return New York City High School track & field to the building. The name changed soon after the funding and local support was achieved. As you may or may not know, track meets were held at the Armory going back as far as the 1920’s but in the early 1980’s it became one of the largest and most dangerous homeless shelters in the city. In the late 1980’s Dr Nobert Sander and the Foundation fought to get the Armory back for the children of the City of New York so they could once again participate in the sport of track & field.
e. Many of the major construction projects that you see happening at the Armory have been funded by the City of New York as well as the state.
f. The late Councilman Stanley Michaels, Councilman Robert Jackson, Assemblyman Denny Farrell and Congressman Charlie Rangel have been huge supporters in getting funding to the Armory. The installation of new windows, refurbished bathrooms, air conditioning units and the recently refurbishment of the track have all been funded by grants.
The question that needs to be addressed is “Where do all the fundraising, rental and admission fees go? Unfortunately, the obvious answer will be administrative salaries, including astronomical rates of increase from year to year.
Reported Salaries – (Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt From Income 2010 – 2012)
Salaries Other Compensation Total
2010 Norbert Sander $187,665.00 plus $20,947.00 $ 208,612.00
Rita Finkel $83,396.00
Total $ 292,008.00
2011 Norbert Sander $223,777.00
Rita Finkel $ 91,302.00
Kimberly Ver Steeg $103,916.00
2012 Norbert Sander $233,061.00
Rita Finkel $ 116,547.00
Kimberly Ver Steeg $ 129,782.00 $ 6,892.00 $ 136,674.00
Total $ 486,282.00
Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt From Income 2010 – 2012
<a href="http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201306_990.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201306_990.pdf</a>
<a href="http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201206_990.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201206_990.pdf</a>
<a href="http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201106_990.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/133/133680286/133680286_201106_990.pdf</a>
The salaries you see above are for the top three earners. It does not include the following management staff:
• Patrick Tomasiewicz - Director of Creativity (estimated salary - $100,000)
• Kenny Dwyer – Building Manager (estimated salary - $100,000)
• Tim Fulton – Director of High School Track & Field (estimated salary - $90,000 – extra benefit uses armory timing equipment for outside timing services for additional income <a href="http://www.fultonaccuratetiming.com/about/" rel="nofollow">http://www.fultonaccuratetiming.com/about/</a> )
• Tom Healy – Director of Track & Field (estimated salary - $80,000)
• Jack Pfeifer – Director of College Track & Field (estimated part-time salary - $60,000 plus illegal rooming accommodations at the Armory during the indoor track season)
• Clayton Harding – Director of Armory Prep (estimated salary - $80,000)
The top nine positions are close to one million dollars in salaries. Not included, are the following full-time positions:
• office manager
• assistant office manager
• track & field director
• assistant track & field directors
• website director
• Information technology director
• assistant director of creativity
• resident DJ’s and video staff
Examining this list, one must ask how many of these positions are currently filled by minorities. How many actually originate or reside in the Washington Heights community? How many live outside of New York City?
Positions that are offered to members of the Washington Heights community are typically seasonal and low paying. What is the percentage of income/salary that is dedicated to local residents as opposed to the hierarchy of the Armory?
• An unspoken practice at the facility occurs at the end of the season; if you want employment the following year do not think about filing for unemployment. (Various staff have been told this and others have been fired for this reason – which violates federal law)
• Prime examples of this practice can be seen with Ed Small and Sharon Warren. Mr. Small was the first Director of track and field (13 years) and Ms. Warren served as his assistant at the Armory. Both filed for employment insurance at the end of the track season and both were soon fired.
<a href="http://masterstrack.com/2006/06/1147/" rel="nofollow">http://masterstrack.com/2006/06/1147/</a>
Minorities that have worked at the Armory and displayed satisfactory performances in their positions have either been fired or have been “pushed out” for similar actions:
• Ed Small – Director of Track & Field
• Sharon Warren – Assistant Director of Track & Field
• Louis Vazquez – Director of Operations
• Jamie DeFour – Office Manager
• Derrick Adkins – Director of Track & Field/Armory Prep
• Christian Mariano – Technology Director
• Aliann Pompey – Director Armory Prep
• Janine Davis – Assistant Director Armory Prep
Research within the track & field community may find that each one of these individuals have outstanding reputations and performance records. In addition, none of the past employees received salaries similar to the current top earners at the Armory, before their service ended.
2. Returning to the topic of hierarchical salaries: How does the Armory Foundation pay for them? As you may know, most grants and funding sources do not permit its use towards employee salaries. Unfortunately, self regulated salary amounts at the Armory Foundation are funded on the backs of the Washington Heights and the greater New York City track and field community in several manners:
a. Track & Field Event Rental Fees –
The Armory charges fees for use of the facility. Most facilities charge an hourly rate based on staffing, maintenance, security, clean-up and timing cost. If you were to look at the entire contracts for the events nowhere would you find an equal or standard hourly rate for any of these items. Each applicant or organization is charged different rates, arbitrarily. Basically, the more the Armory feels an organization can afford to pay the more they may be charged. Per the Armory contract:
• Fee Determination:
o Meet costs for each individual date is determined prior to the signing of the contract.
o It is based on size of the meet and number of hours required.
o Determination of the fee is dependent upon our knowledge of what it will cost the Armory to provide the necessary equipment and services for the organization to run the meet, while preserving the Facility at the same time.
o Your invoice will be itemized showing the base rental fee, actual costs for security, cleanup, automatic timing, supervision and any extras requested by the Organization.
• Overtime charges – All persons must exit the facility after the contracted meet time, after which, overtime charges will apply. The Organization will be charged at a rate of $1800 an hour for overtime.
Fees for use of the Armory have steadily increased each year, along with the salaries of administrative staff. Slowly, the New York City track & field programs have continually been pushed off the schedule to make way for Westchester, Rockland, Long Island, New Jersey, outside colleges and Armory events. An examination of the Armory schedule will reveal that that most of the New York City Public School PSAL events are squeezed in at the beginning or at the end of the season, far from accommodating for the majority of our city’s young athletes.
PSAL Indoor Schedule
Sunday, November 30 PSAL Pilgrims Games - 9-5pm
Saturday, December 6 PSAL Jim McKay Memorial - 9am-5pm
Sunday, December 7 PSAL Jim McKay Memorial - 9am-5pm
Friday, December 12 PSAL Night at the Sprints - 4pm-9pm
Sunday, December 28 PSAL Holiday Classic - 9am-5pm
Friday, January 2 PSAL Distance Night - 4pm-10pm
Monday, January 19 (PSAL MLK Relays) Martin Luther King Jr. Relays - 9am-7pm
Monday. February 9 PSAL Manhattan Borough Championships - 4pm-9pm
Sunday, February 15 PSAL Borough Championships - 9am-10pm
Monday, February 16 PSAL Borough Championships - 6pm-9pm
Sunday, February 22 PSAL Indoor Championships - 9am-4pm
Sunday, March 8 PSAL Freshmen and Sophomore Championships - 10am-5pm
The Catholic High Schools’ Freshmen and Sophomore City Championship had to move to Saint Anthony’s High School in Long Island, since their normal date was given to Westchester and Rockland County for their Championships. The meet was held at the Armory since the facility first opened. Citing another example, the City of New York (CUNY) Track & Field Championship, their requested championship date was given to a New Jersey track & field association. CUNY was only given their requested date for this season when political pressure was put on foundation. The Armory is a New York City facility and has been funded by New York City money then why is it not supporting the children of New York City? Many local groups (for profit and not-for-profit) have been shut out of the Armory and many of these groups can afford to pay the cost of hosting a track & field event but they chose to give it away to non–NYC organizations as indicated below breakdown.
The Armory decided to put on youth events for middle school children but it you look at the participation of children, you will notice that the majority are not from the New York City area. The Armory has refused to offer functional access to the youth organizations of New York City, which caters to the majority of youth athletes in the 5 boroughs prior to their entering high schools. The youth leagues have been forced to utilize venues of lesser quality. Ultimately, the youth athletes enter New York City high schools, extending their limited access to the Armory.
Meet # 1
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9240&mgroup_id=45586&year=2013" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9240&mgroup_id=45586&year=2013</a>
Meet # 2
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9248&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9248&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014</a>
Meet # 3
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=1734&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=1734&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014</a>
Meet # 4
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9279&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=9279&mgroup_id=45586&year=2014</a>
USATF-New York, which caters to the youth of New York City had to hold their championship meet at West Point. The majority of the student-athletes coming out of this league will end up attending New York City high schools and colleges. Why are they forced to travel so far to hold a championship?
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=events&mgroup_id=45586" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=events&mgroup_id=45586</a>
Breakdown of Armory Events
Armory/Sponsors NYC Based Events Non NYC Based Events Other Not-For-Profit
NYRR 10 PSAL HS 15 Section 1/Westchester HS 14 Club Team Open (NY) 1
Armory Foundation 9 CHSAA HS 4 Long Island HS 3 USATF NY Open 1
Staten Island HS 1 New Jersey HS 11 USATF NY Youth 0
Private NY Schools HS 4 College Meets (NJ) 4 City Sports for Kids 4
College Meets (NY) 4 College Meets (other) 4
HS Invitational’s 2 HS Invitational’s 2
Total 19 Total 30 Total 38 Total 6
b. Admission Fees –The Armory charges admission fees for all events.
i. High School\Youth Events - $10.00 per person - General Admission
ii. - $20.00 per person - Reserved seating
iii. College Meets -$20.00 per person – General Admission
iv. -$30.00 per person - Reserved seating
In the beginning, each meet director made a decision on whether or not they would charge an admission fee. The admission fee was collected by meet management and the money was used to help defray the expenses of putting on their event. Admission fee was $2.00 at the time and it also helped to provided security at the front entrance. Dr Sander saw the opportunity to further profit from the parents, friends, and families of competing athletes at the door and told meet directors that his staff would now collect all fees at the gate. Initially, he suggested that the gate would be split between the organization and the Armory since he was providing the staff to supervise ticketing. The price of admission went up to $4.00. The agreement lasted one year and now the Armory keeps all profits from the gate, in addition to the fees for rentals. Last year, the price of admission went up in January from $6.00 to $8.00 and no public announcement or warning of the change was distributed in a timely manner. This year, once again, the price has been increased and once again, no public sharing of the change in policy is available. Like the salary increases of Armory Foundation administration, the increases are too frequent, and unrelated to the rate of costs, inflation, or services being provided. Many families can no longer afford to come to watch their children compete at the Armory. The minimum wage in New York State is $8.00 per hour in 2014. It would cost a family of four between $40 and $80 to watch their child run for 10 – 20 minutes. How many other local facilities charge at the door? And if they do, what is the cost? Most are usually free or at a reasonable fee with the exception of their state and national championships.
High School Fees:
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=576&mgroup_id=45586&year=2015" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=576&mgroup_id=45586&year=2015</a>
<a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=577&mgroup_id=45586&year=2015" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?do=view_event&event_id=577&mgroup_id=45586&year=2015</a>
c. Outside rentals and not-for-profits fees (non-track) –
i. An Armory motto has become “if the not-for-profit has money, we should be charging them more and if they want to come to the Armory they will find the money.” A perfect example of this, which you mention in your article, was the Isabella Geriatric Center Walking Works Wonders program. The free program was a perfect fit for the Armory. It brought about 60-70 Washington Heights senior residents to the Armory for a two day weekly program. The program started at 7:30am and was completed by 9:00am. Perfect time slots since most activities at the Armory were happening in the evenings or on weekends. A good portion of the walking program was also scheduled during the off season (September – November, April – June).
ii. The instructor of the walking program was Lon Wilson, a top race walker in the New York area. It was an excellent program that worked on the seniors’ flexibility, strength and conditioning. Walking was a major component but some eventually some started running towards the end of the program. You would think the walking program would be a natural fit for the Armory. What better way to get support from the residents of Washington Heights. Everybody understood that there are staffing costs to run a facility and Isabella was willing to pay a rental fee (not a donation) of $5,000 for about 70 hours of use per year. Dr Sander felt that the fee wasn’t high enough and decided to increase the rental fee to $15,000.
iii. Why is this event being mentioned? The same thing is happening to the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The HCZ has been running a three day track & field event during the summer at the Armory for a number of years now. They have just been told that they are not paying enough for use of the facility and have been asked to pay $61,000 for next summer for their three day event. What can possibly warrant this increase for an event serving our city’s youth during the off season. When you have staff members that are working on commission it makes sense. The more money that you bring in from rentals the higher your salary may be at the end of the year. If the Armory feels an organization has money then why not charge a higher rental fee. If you can’t afford the “suggested donation (rental)” fee you cannot use the facility. What would the cost be to run this event at another facility? I have only listed two examples but I am sure if you ask other not-for-profits you will hear the similar stories.
d. Registration (practice) fees – Registration fees can be broken down in a few categories. Again, fees vary among organizational types, arbitrarily. Different teams are being charged different rates to train alongside each other on the same day. Many use the same equipment, have similar roster sizes, and train for the same amount of hours.
Fees & Registration
Fees are for the 2014-15 Indoor Season: Nov. 17, 2014 - April 16, 2015
Membership Cost Notes
Youth Club $400/club From 5 to 30 athletes; $100 for each additional athlete
Youth Individual $100/athlete
High School Team $900/school A school may sign up an unlimited number of students
thanks to a generous grant from the New York Road Runners If not for this grant from NYRR, what would the fee be for High School teams to train?
High School Individual $100/athlete
College Team $200/athlete Per number of athletes at any given training session
College Individual $200/athlete
Adult Club $300/athlete
Adult Individual $300/athlete Day rate on adult open days is $15/athlete.
Read more: ArmoryTrack.com - Training - Training <a href="http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=45586#ixzz3JHXH1ewo" rel="nofollow">http://www.armorytrack.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=45586#ixzz3JHXH1ewo</a>
Once again, all of these fees continue to increase year after year. Many youth individuals, seniors and New York City High School and college teams can no longer afford to pay these fees.
Armory Prep Program - The Armory College Prep (ACP) program extends a long-term commitment of putting kids first by adding to the sports venue an after school educational program to increase college opportunity for underserved New York public school students. Educational attainment is more important to our economic success than ever before, and achieving proficiency in Math and English has been part of the Armory’s Academic Achievement Initiative for almost a decade, providing complete college preparation and admission resources to our community students.
As you can see from the statement, which was copied right from the Armory Prep website that this program should be open to any New York City public school student.
<a href="http://www.armory.nyc/armory-college-prep/" rel="nofollow">http://www.armory.nyc/armory-college-prep/</a>
Unfortunately, as you read further down you will find that the ACP is now only open to students who train at The Armory (pay a practice fee). Local education leaders, such as Angelo Ortiz, director of school culture at the Inwood Academy, should be upset that his Washington Heights students do not have the opportunity to participate in this program. Wasn’t the program funded by New York City grant money? How was the Charles Rangel Center funded? You would think that a wonderful facility like the Armory would try to give something back to the community, but then again “The Armory just happens to be in Washington Heights”. I am sure that a program receiving funding requires accurate roster and attendance recording. How many of the students enrolled are residents of the Washington Heights community? A large portion of Armory Prep was provided by Citibank as a sponsor and was meant to be a free program but now you can only participate if you’re paying to practice? They have also told coaches and athletes in Staten Island if they chose to practice and compete at the new Ocean Breeze Track & Field Complex in Staten Island then they cannot participate in the program, point blank.
Do you know that Derrick Adkins (Olympic Gold Medalist), Aliann Pompey (4 time Olympian), and Janine Davis were Directors or Assistant Directors of the ACP? All are well educated, successful and motivated minorities and all of them were either fired or forced out from the Armory. The new director of the program was a member of the Armory Foundation Board. Very interesting, one must wonder how this change happened to come about.
Other items that might interest you:
• Jack Pfeifer – Director of College Track & Field
o Jack receives a full time salary and only resides in NY four months a year. The other months he lives in Eugene, Oregon.
o Jack lives at the Armory those four months with two assistants he brings with him from Eugene.
o The “apartment” has beds, a refrigerator, microwave, cable TV all being paid for by the Armory. Or does the Armory pay an electric bill?
o When the Department of Buildings arrives to inspect the facility, Armory leadership ensures that boxes are thrown in the room and the “apartment” is labeled storage. Armory leadership finds the practice hysterical, laughs publicly, and then brags about deceiving the DOB officials.
o The building is zoned for homeless and not for individuals making high end full time salaries to live there for free.
• Employees using Armory resources and equipment to create their own businesses during the off season, using timing equipment that costs $20,000 per camera. Is there a conflict of interest agreement for the Armory?
• During events of all levels; Youth, High School, College, and Elite Armory administration use their own rules and do not follow the national organizations guide lines for competition, even when stated in writing. Many of these decisions are not ethical and in many circumstances they lie about results. Their entire experienced timing staff has left and/or been fired (many minorities other than those listed above) and were replaced by “friends” of timing supervisors who have little or no experience. The experienced timing crew was also asked many times to lie about results and make up times when the Armory’s faulty equipment would fail.
• They do not perform background checks on any of their employees, which are required by New York City for anyone working with children. It is also required by USA Track & Field.
• Paying their staff
o Many staff members over the years have experienced not being paid in a timely manner, in fact some have worked for 6-8 weeks without being paid and not paid until refusing to come to work. Workplace intimidation and discrimination is evident, but getting Armory staff to admit this would be next to impossible. The individuals being paid the high salaries are not being mistreated, those at the bottom end and living locally experience less than perfect conditions, often.
o Others have worked events and then the Armory has refused payment due to their contract error with the rental client saying that the rental client didn’t pay for the service so they refused to pay the staff they hired. Is it the administration’s responsibility to ensure payment for services to their employees or is this a profit share company.
• USA Track & Field National Hall of Fame
o The Armory houses the Hall of Fame, which is a beautiful display of history but it is closed 90% of the time. Visitors must pay to see the HOF, but the Armory has made decisions to keep it closed because it is not profitable enough. Is this a way to extend access to a national treasure of American Sports history in our city? What has the Armory done to expand the exhibits, attract visitors, and engage the local and visiting track communities in experiencing the hall?
o The Armory claims that thousands of school kids have seen the displays and that may be correct but each school trip or summer camp pays a high entrance fee to bring the kids through the doors. It would be interested to survey the youth and high school aged track and field athletes in New York City who have competed at the Armory over the last 10 years. How many would say that they never had the opportunity to visit the hall? Why is the hall not open for the first and last two hours of every meet? Would the thousands of dollars collected for rental fees, concessions, vendor/store rentals, door fees not cover a few additional staff members to supervise children walking through the venue? Or even fund guided tours by knowledgeable curators. I am sure there are hundreds of local high school and college track enthusiasts, or even retired coaches and elite athletes who would thrive in a part time employment opportunity to share sports history with children. It may even fit into some of the grant and funding sources that the Armory receives.
o In the above tax returns, you would see they declared expenses for the Hall of Fame 2010: Not listed, 2011: $398,426, 2012: $378,146
o For a small area of the building that is never open nor has been updated in many years how are expenses that high? The Hall of Fame area is usually rented out for cocktail parties but they have the Hall of Fame listed as bringing in ZERO income!
What has happened at the Armory is a travesty to the children of Washington Heights and the entire city of New York! Unfortunately, the Armory, “which just happens to be in Washington Heights”, has forgotten about the needs of this community and it has lost sight of its original mission. A change in leadership and policy is needed immediately and the only way that this will happen is through informed pressure from our community, local politicians and a boycott/protest of the prestigious Millrose Games. As Dr. Norb Sander and company try to rally support at the upcoming community board meeting, it is important that the information in this letter be shared and investigated. Our children, our student-athletes, our coaches, parents, and residents deserve better.
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