Thursday, September 19, 2019

Carroll Gardeners Less Than Enthused By Preliminary Redesign For Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens.

CB6 Parks Committee Chair Glenn Kelly
Councilmember Brad Lander at last night'ts meeting
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher

Proposed vision plan for Carroll Park
Leroy Branch, long time member of the Brooklyn Youth Organization.
Long time Carroll Gardener Anthony Pugliese
Rats in Carroll Park in broad daylight yesterday. September19, 2019
Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 8.36.00 AM
At last night's Community Board 6's Parks Committee at PS58, the New York Parks Department gave a presentation of a conceptual plan for a redesign for Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens. The plan, which the Department stressed was very preliminary, was based on ideas and comments collected from local residents at a public visioning session back in February 2019.

Carroll Park was last renovated in 1994.  Normally, City parks get renovated every 30 years, depending on their use and their condition. We have all noticed that Carroll Park's play equipment, safety surface, sprinkler area and bathrooms in the park are desperately in need of some updating. 

There is currently no money set aside in the budget for a total renovation of Carroll Park and any such renovation is still five to ten years, if not further down the road. However, Councilmember Brad Lander was able to come up with a grant of $25,000 with which design firm Starr Whitehouse was engaged to begin the process by creating a renovation proposal based on community outreach.

Councilmember Lander and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher, who both attended last night's meeting, were clear that nothing was set in stone, that this will be a 'long, long process' and that the plan for the park will be evolving with more feedback from local residents.
The idea is to think about what the next phase of this much loved neighborhood park will be, so that the community can be part of the planning.

At the February visioning meeting, Carroll Gardeners had asked for the old trees and open planting areas to be preserved. They had also asked for a turf area and an flexible open recreational area for bike riding, scooting, baseball/softball. and soccer.
There were also calls for expanded play areas and a dedicated performance space for special events in the park such as Smith Street Stage's Shakespeare in Carroll Park performances.

One thing Brooklyn Park's Commissioner Maher wanted the community to keep in mind was that since the last renovation, many regulations have changed within his department.  Much of the recreational and sports features in our park are now out of compliance and need much more space around them to meet current safety codes.  In addition, no new equipment that needs to be anchored into the ground can be installed under the canopy of a tree since it could damage the tree's roots.
Given these new regulations and the fact that Carroll Park has many enormous old trees, the options of where to put play equipment and what features can be incorporated in a new design are limited.

The presented proposal shifts the play equipment and water features to the ball field at Court Street and adds a turf area plus additional seating.  Swings might take the place of the current 'big kids area' along President Street, and adult fitness area could be installed in the current 'toddler area.'

In addition, the park house would be renovated, and the bathrooms made handicapped accessible. The area in front of the house would be set aside as a 'civic space' and for special events.

The central portion of the park where the World War 1 Memorial is located would stay pretty much the same as would the seating area along Smith Street.

By moving the children's play area to the ball field, there would be an increase from 9,000 square feet currently to almost 15,000 square feet of space, the park would lose the basketball hoops and the baseball/softball field in that section.

It was the loss of the open ball field and its baseball and basketball features that prompted a big outcry from those in attendance.  "You are talking about taking away the one thing that works best for the park," one local resident said. Another resident mentioned that open space is at a premium in the city and that Carroll Park's ball field  accommodates an amazing range of activities at all times of the day.

Leroy Branch, who represented the Brooklyn Youth Organization, which runs a baseball program in the park for kids aged 3 to 11, mentioned that his organization has been displaced several times from  parks in its 25 year history. BYO would strongly oppose losing the ballfield in Carroll Park without the guarantee of finding a similar field in another nearby park.

Long time Carroll Gardens resident Anthony Pugliese was concerned that the redesign was mostly accommodating younger children, but neglected the needs of adolescents."At one point, kids leave their parents and are alone in the park." He mentioned that when he raised his kids years ago, the community had the use of PS58 and PS32's schoolyards, where teens could skateboard and play basketball.  Those yards are now closed after school and on week-ends.

As was made abundantly clear last year, the renovation will not happen for 'many, many years.'
The community should continue to be involved in planning for a next renovation.  
Perhaps the best way to do so is to join Friends of Carroll Park, the all volunteer group that has acted as a steward for the park for the past twenty five years.
The group organizes events, takes care of the plantings and addresses concerns with the Parks Department. One of the current concerns are rats in the park.
The photo below was taken by someone who visited Carroll Park with a young child yesterday afternoon. It shows six rats in broad daylight lapping up some milk right across the street of PS 58.
That is frankly disgusting and a health hazard.

So lets not only look at Carroll Parks future, but let us address this issue by all calling 311 and/or Councilman Brad Lander's office at 718-499-1090.

The entire Parks Department presentation can be accessed here.


Anonymous said...

Rather than rebuild Caroll Park (which is fine) how about they (finally) get around to developing Columbia Street Park (Degraw to Kane). Theres a big fenced off sand lot just waiting to be turned into a park and the population of this area is growing. Developing the park would greatly help the area.

Biraz Turk said...

Nothing that was presented at that meeting actually reflected the input from the previous meeting. If the planners knew of all the limitations posed by the trees and their root systems (which they did) they should have made that clear from the outset. I am also disappointed that you said nothing in your post about the dogs. The majority of attendees of the initial meeting expressed support for some kind of off leash dog time. Since a dog run is supposedly not feasible, it was repeatedly suggested that off leash hours (before 9am and after 9pm) be permitted at the asphalt playground. That request has been ignored by Parks and stonewalled by FOCG.

Anonymous said...

thank you for this detailed report. 1000% in agreement about the basketball courts & open space for non-little kids, which are great but won't be little forever!

Q: why was the elementary school playground on Smith Street ever allowed to be closed off on anyway?