Brooklyn Looks Gift House in the Mouth

Brooklyn Bridge Park's privately funded field house proposal, complete with Olympic-class velodrome, faces criticism over its size, effects on the surrounding neighborhood, and arguments over open space versus space for sports facilities.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, the nascent 85-acre waterfront park still under development, received a $40 million gift from New York native Joshua P. Rechnitz in April - "the largest single gift in the history of New York City's parks system" - for the construction of a field house, complete with a velodrome. As Lisa Foderaro reports for The New York Times, the stadium would allow for almost 2,500 spectators to watch the track-cycling sport on a 200 meter track.

Despite the donor's generosity, some worry about the stadium's effects on the character of the park itself as well as the surrounding neighborhood. "Joan Zimmerman, president of the Fulton Ferry Landing Association, another community group," reports Foderaro,"said she worried that the park was already being nibbled away by structures. 'Putting this large of a building at one of the narrower necks of the park raises the question of what's more important: green space or buildings?' she said."

Others are questioning Rechnitz himself, "he is an avid amateur track cyclist who has tried - and failed - to bring a velodrome to the city. Now, they say, he is buying the track he wants, on public land," says Foderaro.

Others see the stadium as beneficial. "Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which governs land use in the park, emphasized that 'it's not taking away any green space; the plan always called for that location to be a maintenance building.'"

Still, in order to develop a velodrome on park land, approval from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, in addition to approval from the state, must be secured.

Full Story: A $40 Million Gift, a Proposed Bike Arena, and Now Skepticism in Brooklyn

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