Midtown Tribune News Logo

NYC. Mayor Eric Adams Breaks Ground on New Mary Cali Dalton Recreation Center

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations:  All right. Good morning, everybody. Happy Friday. Welcome to a very important day for Staten Island, an important day for the city, and an important day for community building, it’s the glue that keeps our city together.

And I’d like to introduce our mayor, Eric Adams, whose first priority is making sure that the quality of life for all New Yorkers improves, excels and continues to bring the community and creativity that we call New York together.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Now, who’s in the front row? Do y’all want to join us and come up and join us and be part of this? Come on in.

Come on, right up here, because I think it’s lost in the narrative of what we stated when we came, this administration, that Staten Island for so long was the heart and soul of our city, working class people, but they had this title of being a forgotten borough.

But we made it clear that not under this administration, it is not going to be a forgotten borough. And when you say you’re not going to forget a borough, you’re talking about grandchildren, you’re talking about parents, you’re talking about working-class people. And I think no one personified that more than Mary Cali Dalton and what she represented.

And the tradition of that, her three daughters that are here, Mary, Valerie and Gina, are also public servants, continuing the tradition of public service.

I don’t have the exact stats, but I bet you proportionally the number of public servants that live on this borough probably outpaces the entire city. Everything from, people know the tradition of police officers and firefighters, but also teachers, those who are park employees, those who contribute to this city and giving back to the city in a real way.

So, we’re really excited today. Number one, this beautiful space. As I walked up and was greeted by both my commissioner from DDC, my commissioner from Parks, they are just excited about this project, and I share their enthusiasm.

And you know we just have to curb our enthusiasm right now, because we are really appreciating the vision that is coming through today from this beautiful pool, to the renovation of this space, and just really celebrating something that you waited for so long.

This is the first recreational center in over 14 years — 14 years. And it’s a combined effect of not only celebrating the opening but celebrating a life of commitment and dedication to the people of Staten Island. And for too long this borough has been ignored, and we wanted to send a very clear and loud message that you’re not ignored, not only the brick and mortar, but the people.

Mary was clearly a community leader, understood the community. Councilwoman Debi Rose, I don’t know if Debi is here. Come on up here. I remember when I was just learning about the area and I reached out to Debi and I said, Debi, I’m hearing so much about Mary, tell me… You know, who is she, give me more information.

And she was just full with just how Debi just came in and hit the ground running and was really committed to Staten Island. You know, joining the Parks in 1999 and moved up through the system to become the borough director of Recreation for Staten Island in 2002.

And so this is really Debi’s W. You know, this is her W. She really was committed and getting this over the finish line. And sometimes when council people leave office, we forget the legacy that they left in the process.

Former City Councilmember Debi Rose: And the blood, sweat and tears.

Mayor Adams: That’s right. And just navigating mayors after mayors and making sure you can get it done.

So, I want to just say thank you to Mary, her daughter, her grandchildren who are here as well, and just the whole Staten Island family as we celebrate and bringing something special to Staten Island. And Mary coined the phrase, being in charge of the magic, “being in charge of the magic.” 

Something magical happens when you allow children and families to have space. And listen, we all know in Staten Island, those of you who are Staten Islanders, you know it. All the focus goes on Central Park and our other parks but without realizing that the same thing they want in Central Park we want for our children here in the parks of Staten Island and Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and that is our focus.

And so this recreational center is a fitting tribute to a leader and a community, and we know that parks are the great equalizers, that if you have a good green space, something that Sue, Commissioner Donoghue, talks about all the time and her team. If you have a good green space, you create an environment that is an equalizer. No one knows your economic status, no one knows what title you have, no one knows what degree you have.

If you are in a park, we’re all the same. You know, the grass does not treat you any differently if you’re the CEO or if you are the plumber, you know?

And so we just really want to thank the entire community in every neighborhood to make sure they can have access to good quality recreational spaces. This is a $92 million commitment, $92 million that we’re committing to making this happen.

It is going to include sports courts, indoor and outdoor running tracks for electric vehicle charging stations and fitness and cardio rooms. Our director of sports and management, Jasmine Ray who’s a Staten Islander, she would always run by this space in her marathon training and say, we need to make it happen. Well, we’re bringing it home now, Jasmine. We’re bringing it home.

And we’re ensuring that this project will be delivered quickly and efficiently. We can do this by removing the bureaucracy that’s attached and associated with building. We’re going to use new ways of building to just reimagine the communities and move forward in the correct manner.

Listen, projects… We were very clear when we came into office: protecting public safety, revitalizing our economy and creating environments where we could raise healthy children and families. And for everyday hardworking New Yorkers, this project fully focused on that.

And it’s part of the many things we’re doing here on Staten Island, from opening part of Fresh Kills Park. Remember that place, Fresh Kills? And you know, Fresh Kills Park. It used to kill your energy just having to walk past that odor all the time. Look at that park now. That park is beautiful. And expanding the Staten Island Compost Facility is just a continuation.

And now adding to all that we have done on Staten Island, we’re now going to do the ribbon cutting for a real pioneer, a real leader that we’re naming this rec center after, Mary Cali Dalton. Congratulations to her. Congratulations to her family. She’s looking down on us. Great job well done to all. Thank you very much.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Thank you very much, Mayor Adams. And I’d like to also thank Commissioner Donoghue and Commissioner Foley and their teams who constantly push because we don’t get to moments like this without constant pushing, and we won’t get to the ribbon‑cutting without the same.

But their tireless and their never ending energy, so thank you, because it takes all of the teams at DDC and Parks to get this done.

And this is the second design-build project from the Parks Department. What this means is we’ve consolidated two steps into one to save time and money. Instead of the design work and the construction work happening separately, they happen at the same time. This is quicker, it’s also common sense and it makes for better building. And it saves money. That’s money that can then be used for so many of our other city needs.

These are the kinds of construction tools that allow for better competition as well. It brings minority and women‑owned businesses into the process earlier and a broader cross‑section of them.

We have a 30 percent MWBE participation requirement that we’re very proud of. Using design-build and alternative construction tools, we are able to bring in more MWBE businesses. We’ll be able to bring them in earlier and we’re able to, most importantly, pay them faster, which is really integral to the survival of MWBE businesses.

But I just want to mention that we don’t get to use these tools unless Albany lets us. We have to go to the state to get permission to use alternative construction tools. So, this legislative session, please join us in Albany making some noise asking for New York City to have the ability to use more alternative construction tools so we can build better faster. This design-build contract will come in two and a half to three years faster using alternative delivery than if we were confined to our traditional tools.

So, I’m really excited for the project and really excited for successful Albany lobbying and legislation so we can bring this kind of success to all of our construction projects.

I’d like to introduce a very special person, Mary Cali, the daughter of Mary Cali, little Mary Cali, who’s also a supervisor in our New York City Department of Sanitation.

Mary Cali, Supervisor, Department of Sanitation: Good morning, everyone. My name is Mary Cali. I am one of three children of the late Mary Cali Dalton. My sisters Valerie and Gina are here as well and we’re surrounded by our husbands, our children, more family members and friends.

We’d like to express our gratitude to Mayor Adams, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, the congress people that are here, the representatives, for being here, and their kind words. We’d also like to extend our thanks to Debi Rose for all her hard work, the Tompkinsville community, for all the advocating they have done to bring back the Cromwell Center.

When the commissioner at the time, Mitchell Silver, had called my sisters and myself to inform us that this new recreation center was to be named in memory of our mother, we were beyond humble that our family was to be bestowed with this honor.

When I had asked a few family members for a short description of our mom, some of those attributes were optimistic, the glitter and the glue, honest and a great friend. I’ve always told people that my mother set a really high bar for me, myself personally, but this is beyond now. I don’t know how high I’m gonna get now!

So, see, it wasn’t always like that though. Originally, our mom, Mary Lachlan of Red Hook, Brooklyn, she had lost both parents by age nine. Her brother, Patrick, 12 years her elder, did the best he knew how by her, but the shoes were too big to be filled.

She continued her schooling, graduating from Bishop Kearney High School, all along the way leaning on friendships to fill her with the need to be loved and accepted, but always felt out of place. Her path was dark — ruthless, some would say — fueled by all the wrong choices. Her demons had a hold on her, and she fell into her world of addiction and other dark places that she had been taken.

She hit rock bottom and it hit hard. Everything and everyone — including us, her children — were gone. This may seem like a bit too much information to share with you all. It may seem a little bit personal. But my mom was honest, and this is the most important information to share about her, standing here unashamed, as she would have it.

But then, June 13, 1999, at the age of 45 years old, she started to set that bar: she started with the Parks Department and through the work experience program that same year. New character traits kicked in: shameless, confident, fearless.

She got her children back. She became a playground associate in the year 2000. I remember she would open the Dugan Park building and she would bring out a makeshift bookshelf that she screwed wheels on to herself; and I couldn’t understand who wanted to look at a bookshelf when we were in the playground.

And she told me, if someone wants to share a story, we’re gonna listen. She said, if someone will need our help, we’re gonna help them. That was her devotion to others. That was now her path. That filled the void.

And in 2002, she became, as we know it, the chief of magic. The Cromwell Center was her home, filled with life, young and old. No one in the Cromwell Center or anyone that crossed her path went unheard, not on her watch.

From talent shows for all those that just always wanted to get up on that stage, to the kid that just wanted to dress up their puppy and show ’em off, ideas came to life.

And she was never too big to stand on the sidelines, she was always in it with you: costume, pirate hat, wizard’s suit, anything she could get her hands on, shameless, in there just by your side.

When our mom passed away in 2019, her final attributes came to be: selfless, respected, heard; and most importantly, loved. However, I came to realize that I would never hear my mom tell me I’m proud of you ever again, and it seemed like there was nothing like hearing that from a parent.

But with time, I’ve grown to understand that it was not just her being my mother, it was knowing that it came from a place of meaning. It was knowing that I was seen and I was heard.

So, when these doors opened here to the Tompkinsville community and to anyone that may walk in these doors, I hope that you feel that. I hope you feel the same. I hope you feel heard. I hope you feel at home. I hope the chief and the staff, I hope they bring back the magic to the people.

And I hope that somewhere in between people get to tell others that they are proud, because maybe that’s just what they need to hear. I know that if I could bring my mother here just for a moment, that that’s what I would tell her, because she did not hear it enough: that I was proud of her.

And she’s standing up there right now, and in her words, she’s going, yeah, bay‑bee! Thank you so much.

Mayor Adams: Wasn’t that an amazing story?  You know, authentic tales of who we are, being unashamed of when you hit bends in the road, it’s not the end of the road. And you know, your mom made the turn; and because of that, so many people made the turn.

Now, who’s gonna be the spokesperson for the grandchildren? Huh?  Which one of you? Who’s the…  You? Huh

You gonna be the spokesperson?  Which one? Who’s gonna speak on behalf of the grandchildren? Huh?

Who’s gonna say, “yeah, bay‑bee!”

All right. Before we toss the dirt, we’re gonna hear some dirt from the press, right?

Question: [Inaudible] Cromwell Center [was demolished] in 2013? [Inaudible] about what has been missing [inaudible].

Former Councilmember Rose: I’m sorry, what was the last part of that?

Question: What’s been missing from the North Shore since the Cromwell Center was demolished in 2013?

Former Councilmember Rose: You know, when Cromwell first crumbled into the harbor, New York Harbor, in 2010, it signaled a devastating reality to the North Shore of Staten Island that there were no recreational facilities here to accommodate the losses that we suffered when Cromwell, you know, fell into the harbor.

Cromwell, historically, my mom and dad went to teenage dances at Cromwell. When I grew up, Cromwell was the place to go to see where the boys were, because they had all the basketball courts and it had a track. And so Cromwell was such an important part.

And you know, the funny thing was it wasn’t just Staten Island and it wasn’t just the North Shore. Guys used to come from Manhattan and Brooklyn to get pick up games, you know, basketball games here at Cromwell, so it was known outside of Staten Island.

And we lost, you know, a wonderful space where, you know, in our community, there aren’t many green spaces, open spaces, so Cromwell was really an important piece. Not only… I have a problem personal love for Cromwell because it’s a part of my growing up, but also the community, the community that I lived in, the community was devastated by the loss.

And so, it really was important to fight to get Cromwell to exist. There were conversations about, well, maybe we could build some other community center, but the community wasn’t having it. The historic importance of Cromwell is what made it necessary.

It also opened our eyes about environmental issues, because the original was on a pier. And the pier had been undermined by worms. And then when we had Sandy, it just finished it off. This whole area was underwater. The famous photo of a ship on our roadway happened just down the street a little bit.

So, Cromwell has a lot of significance for this community, and so I am just so excited. And Mayor Adams, I’m so glad that you, you know, you talked about sometimes it takes a while for things to happen. We secured the money in 2017 for this. And so… And it was the wisdom of our mayors that it should go through a different process where it wouldn’t take so long.

So, this is really a historic day for not only the North Shore, but Staten Island, that we are now going to have another center, which will not be named after an old governor that nobody remembered. But it will be named after a community activist, a community servant, a person who was near and dear and who understood the importance of recreation and resources.

And she made a way out of no way. Sometimes she didn’t have any resources, and she still made the experience for young people fun, exciting, and exploratory. So, we are blessed to have had your mom. She was an important person.

Mayor Adams: What do you got going on?

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Hearing from Mary’s family of how inspirational the Parks Department was for her and the services it provides, would you renew your commitment as a candidate for mayor to fund the Parks Department one percent of the city’s budget?

It currently is not, you promised it as a candidate, just hearing the significance of the Parks Department and even expanding the worker program that was initially cut in the November PEG [inaudible] expanded. And would you commit to this crowd to spending at least one percent of the city’s budget on the Parks Department?

Mayor Adams: Well, listen, no one knows about living up to commitments more than I. Bringing crime down like we did; getting our people back on the subway system, 4.1 million, like we did; having more private sector jobs in the history of the city, like we did; outpacing the state on reading and writing for our children, like we did.

Who would have thought that not only were we going to be hit with the typhoon of Covid but also the typhoon of migrant and asylum seekers. And so we would love to live up to all the promises we have, and I hope you use your publication to write to the national government and say we should not be spending $12 billion on migrant and asylum seekers, we should be spending it on that one percent. Actually, I want to do two percent if we could get that $12 billion back.

So, you know, Moody’s just announced yesterday I — don’t know if you saw it —- but they reinforced our bond ratings because of my fiscal responsibility. I have to navigate this city out of the crisis like I navigated as a police officer out of crime.

I want parks in our communities like these, but I’ve got to be fiscally responsible. It’s an awesome job, but thank God He made me the mayor at this time, because I’m the man for the job. Okay? Let’s throw some dirt at the reporters.

February 23, 2024 New York City Hall Manhattan NY

Source: NYC.govMidtown Tribune news
Big New York news BigNY.com

Midtown Tribune, New York – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx news, NYC updates, Manhattan events, local news, breaking news, New York City, Midtown Manhattan, business news, politics, culture, entertainment, technology, lifestyle, sports, finance, education, real estate, tourism, travel, restaurants, events calendar, community, opinions, reviews, features, investigations, journalism, latest news, top stories om Midtown Tribune.com

February 2024

#RyanHendrickson #TipOfTheSpear #StandWithUkraine #GenePanasenko .Palestine Adams amendment Asylum Benny Johnson Biden Black business China Congress Constitution controll Cotton Court Crime CRIMINAL cultural gun Hamas Israel Joe JUSTICE Marxism Massacre news New York NYC Obama Palestine Pogrom President Putin Racketeering Trade Show trump Tucker Ukraine UN US usa War War in Ukraine Washington White House