Are Brooklyn Heights residents too haughty to share the neighborhood? That’s the tenor of a New York Post article today, which reports the melodramatic account of Tuesday night’s Brooklyn Park Planning meeting. Apparently, several civic leaders groused that the record-setting $40 million donation for a planned 115,000sf athletic facility would be “devastating” for the nabe.
The proposed year-round Fieldhouse near Pier 5 at the edge of Joralemon Street in Willowtown, received a full funding offer in April from Manhattan philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz, which would include an inclined bike track, sports playing areas, 2,500 seats and on-site parking. Rechnitz also agreed to underwrite any operating revenue shortfalls during the first decade of a 20-year city lease agreement.
But some activists Tuesday complained, saying the BBP attraction would draw crowds of unwanted pedestrians and traffic to the quiet streets of the neighborhood. Community Board 2 parks committee member Mary Goodman, who lives a few blocks away, protested, “This would be devastating to the southern Heights. [Joralemon] would become the secret way to get there faster, and in a street full of babies, dogs and people, it would be disastrous.”
Brooklyn Heights Assn. President Jane McGroarty and Linda DeRosa, VP of the Willowtown Assn., also bemoaned the influx of park-goers, according to the Post. Both groups intend to lobby the city to fence off Joralemon Street at the corner of Furman Street, preventing access to the park there. “It’s a very exciting project,” McGroarty said. “But if [the field house is] going to have 2,500 people, where are they going to come from?”
Addressing the concerns, Kate Collingnan, a rep for the nonprofit New York City Fieldhouse, stressed, “Certainly access and traffic will be things we look at” during the city’s environmental review process. In addition, Judi Francis, who has led a fight to keep high-rise condos out of the park, said the plan should be hailed, not lambasted, because it “finally fills the park’s biggest void,” a lack of year-round recreation: “The focus should be how fantastic this will be for all New Yorkers.”