Residents concerned about future of Five Town Community Center as Nassau opens bidding process to nonprofits
The Five Towns Community Center faces an uncertain future because Nassau County has announced it will not renew the current operator's lease, which expires in July 2024.
The county opened up the bidding process to nonprofits, which would take over the facility in Lawrence.
Eloise Thomas, who spent many years devoted to the center as a board member and volunteer, says the community center feeds 1,000 people each week with their food pantry and offers day care, free after-school programs and medical services.
She says the Five Towns Community Center is in touch with the community's needs and was helpful for hundreds of families during challenging times like Superstorm Sandy.
"I happened to meet so many people that were ashamed to get food but when they come here, they said it feels like they are coming back to old friends," Thomas says.
Thomas and others who have worked in the community center are fearful that services will now be cut to what they call an underserved population.
"To lose that would be an injustice," Thomas says.
A Nassau County spokesman says there are no plans to cut services, and a requirement to win the bid includes offering pre-school programs, youth athletics, a new soccer field and investments in the building's infrastructure and grounds.
Nassau County Executive Blake Blakeman sent News 12 a statement, saying, "After 50 years, I felt that we needed to get some fresh blood in there and we needed to get an entity that would invest back into the community."
The community center director and staff would not comment on the story.