Five Towns Community Center Awaits Nassau County Lease Renewal | Herald Community Newspapers

The many community programs at the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, a community staple for 115 years, are under threat as the center’s 50-year lease is set to expire in 2024.

At least 5,000 South Shore families are enrolled in food, medical, counseling and after-school programs and services at Community Center. “It really is a vital hub for the community,” said General Manager K. Brent Hill.

Services include food stamps and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)a Head Start program for children, Gammy’s Pantry, health and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, the Community Action Center for Youth, Help for the Foreign Born, a health care navigator and the Addiction Center Addiction Support Committee and other programs.

The impact of not having the lease extended by Nassau County could cause ripples in community center programs, according to county lawmaker Carrié Solages, a Democrat, who represents the area.

He said the county Economic Opportunities Commission, who administers the Head Start program at the center, “needs to know that the center’s lease will be extended,” Solages said, “because they have to plan their budget at least two years in advance.”

Hill echoed the possible cascade of problems the center could face without a new lease. “We have a number of state and federal contracts for programming, so we need to be able to renew all of those contracts,” he said, “obviously we need a space to be there” .

Solages and County Executive Bruce Blakeman support renewing the lease, Hill said — yet, “there has been no action. So I’m a bit of a radical optimist. I like to take them at their word, but it becomes crucial now, in terms of timing. We just hope to get some momentum behind this effort to renew our lease.

As the Herald went to press, Gwynn Campbell, chair of the board of the Five Town Community Center, did not respond with whom or how she is negotiating the lease renewal.

Solages sent two letters – one to Laura Curran, when she was county manager, and another to Blakeman, after she took over the post. But Solages has not yet received a response on the status of the lease, he said. At least 2,000 people have signed an online petition in favor of renewing the lease.

“Not having a community center would be a blow to the community,” Solages said, and Hill added, “We think it’s really important to maintain the social services that we have.”

Jill E. Washington