Upgrades underway at Longwood complex

Sandra Santana Mariaca

New plant beds are part of a number of upgrades at Stebbins-Hewitt Houses in Longwood.

Residents of Stebbins-Hewitt Houses in Longwood have one more reason to celebrate this holiday season.

Tenants in the 119-apartment complex on Rev. James A. Polite Avenue are making plans for ways to put their new courtyard to best use. A big Christmas bash tops the agenda.

With the help of a $1.5 million allocation from City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, renovations have been completed on the playground and a nearby seating area at Stebbins-Hewitt. The next phase will include installation of a new sprinkler system, a basketball court and a picnic and barbecue area.

The final phase will include renovation of the stairwells, walkways and parking lot and conversion to a more energy efficient, “green” lighting system.

Some residents worked with volunteers from various non-profits such as City Year, Build It Green NYC, and the Citizens Committee For New York City to help put in a new garden. They also plan to spruce up the recreational area as well as organizing Halloween and Christmas parties.

“Some people call this place a project. I call it a housing development because we are not a ‘science project,’” said Ray Serrano, president of the tenants association.

Betty Kelly, a resident, said the renovations raise her hopes that “my grandchildren can grow up in a better building.”

Another resident, Evelyn Del Torre, agreed that the many quality-of-life upgrades planned would help reverse years of deterioration and neglect in the complex and the nearly three-acre city property it is located on.

“We want this to be a beautiful place to our grandchildren. I can’t wait for it to be fixed and be the way it used to be,” she said.

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