In Brooklyn, parents of autistic children and young adults said they were shocked to learn that the Aviator Sports Center was a casualty of the shutdown. The sports complex is privately owned, but its location — on Floyd Bennett Field — is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park, and all national parks have been closed by the shutdown.
“My son is very hyper and this program really works out that energy,” said Anna Tomsky, 39, a divorced single mom raising two autistic children on her own.
“Instead, they’ll be home with a baby-sitter and they won’t be active. When my son doesn’t work out his energy, he can do dangerous things. My daughter will start rocking more. The program really keeps them engaged.”
Her children are enrolled in the Imagine Academy, which runs fitness programs at Aviator for those with autism.
“It’s not a great situation,” said Dean Rivera, the chief operating officer of Aviator. He said birthday parties as well as high school and college football and soccer games at the complex have been canceled this weekend.
“We’re currently trying to figure out where we can rent or help them out with space. We’re talking about thousands of people coming to our building. We’re going to have to turn all those people away,” he said.
The 40 full-time employees and 125 part-time workers that staff the facility are getting paid, at least for now, said Rivera.
On Thursday, a manager at City Access New York — the program in which Frank Carbonaro is enrolled at Aviator — took the 40 young adults in the program to play soccer in a public park. But that was a one-time occurrence.
“It’s very difficult sending big groups like this to the parks without permits,” said Justine Schettino, a top official City Access New York. “Instead of sports or fitness that we do at Aviator, we might do a reading group next week.”