At yesterday evening’s meeting at St. Francis College, New York City Fieldhouse, Inc.’s Executive Director, Greg Brooks (photo) said the project is in its early planning stage, and that the organization’s goal is to “meet public demand.” He said inquiries had revealed strong demand for indoor recreational facilities from area residents, community groups, and schools (the last was later seconded by Dr. Larry Weiss, Head of School at Brooklyn Friends). Mr. Brooks noted concerns about transportation and traffic, and said that an environmental impact statement would have to be prepared and filed.
Gabe Smith, of Thomas Phifer and Partners, the architectural firm retained to design the facility, said the goal was for the facility to be as environmentally and site sensitive as possible. He noted that, in addition to providing a facility for track cycling (Mr. Brooks had earlier noted that this would be only the second such indoor facility in the U.S., the other being at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles) and facilities for other sports and recreational activities, the agreement with Brooklyn Bridge Park povides that it must also provide a maintenance facility for the Park and restrooms for park visitors as well as for those using the Fieldhouse. The maximum footprint for the Fieldhouse is 115,000 square feet, but the designers’ intent is to make it as small as possible, consistent with the need to include the bicycle track. It is possible that the maintenance facility and the Fileldhouse may entirely or partially occupy the same space. Tony Manheim, a longtime park supporter who was in attendance, suggested that space could be saved by placing part of the Fieldhouse under the slope of the berm that is to be constructed to shield the Park from noise from the BQE. He also said that the Fieldhouse itself could add to the noise abatement, and that federal funds may be available to defray some of its cost because of that.
Representative of cycle clubs present at the meeting said they had polled their members and found that all were willing to pay a fee to use the velodrome track. The question was raised whether the Fieldhouse as a whole would be operated on a membership basis, so that all using the facilities would have to pay a fee. Mr. Brooks said this was not likely.
There will be another meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) evening in Willowtown to discuss the Fieldhouse project.