HAVERSTRAW – While the coronavirus pandemic temporarily sidetracked village efforts to bring a high-tech outdoor fitness center to the heart of this working-class village, officials said it also underscored the need for the future “Fitness Court” as a way to ensure everyone has access to wellness.

“If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 epidemic laid bare is the inequities,” Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski said, citing the limited access to health care and other ingredients to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a community that is home to a large immigrant population. The village has the second-highest rate per capita of COVID-19 infection in the county, only behind nearby West Haverstraw.


Fitness Court is an outdoor exercise structure that connects to a free app to help people exercise at their own level. It’s part of the National Fitness Campaign, which is providing $30,000 grants toward the construction of the courts.

“We think it’s a great way to get physical fitness to people who might not otherwise be able to access physical fitness,” village Mayor Michael Kohut said.

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Haverstraw and Mount Vernon are currently the first and only municipalities pursuing Fitness Courts in New York.

“It’s a perfect fit and it’s a natural fit,” Kohut said Thursday as he stood in front of a rendering of the Fitness Court, which will be painted “Raider Red” to reflect the North Rockland school district’s role in the project.


The structure will be located behind the Haverstraw Community Center, across from Haverstraw Elementary School and adjacent to school district fields that are frequently used for pick-up soccer games and other athletic endeavors.

The project will cost around $200,000 in total, Kohut said. The village has already secured land from the school district and Zebrowski and state Sen. James Skoufis have secured $50,000 each in state funding. The Rockland County Community Development Office has dedicated $30,000 to the project. Other funds could come through sponsorship opportunities, Kohut had said.

“People don’t ask a lot from government, they just want to see government working,” Skoufis said. “This is Exhibit A.”


During Thursday’s news conference, Sheldon Horowitz of Safe Harbour Group, Ltd., in New City, said his family would pledge $2,500. He said his family loves the village, including its great restaurants and its spirit.

On Thursday, kids in the Haverstraw Center’s summer camp walked down a grassy slope to view the renderings. Director Marion Breland said the field — a long narrow strip of green — has long been used for soccer and other recreation. The Fitness Court, she said, will help provide an exercise outlet for community members of all ages that the center serves.

Learn about the National Fitness Campaign, including Fitness Court, at nationalfitnesscampaign.com.

See Haverstraw’s Fitness Court plans on the village’s website, VOH-NY.com. Find the link, “Click here for more information on our NEW & future Fitness Court” on the homepage.

The village is working with the Rockland Community Foundation. Go to RCF’s website, rocklandgives.org, click “donate” and scroll down to the “Haverstraw Fitness Court Fund.”

Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland. Support local journalism; go to lohud.com/specialoffer to find out how.