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Abandoned Gowanus Playground Under Subway Tracks Could Get New Life

By Leslie Albrecht | November 6, 2015 3:25pm | Updated on November 8, 2015 6:50pm
 Locals are invited to a Nov. 9 meeting to discuss the history and future of Fran Brady Under The Tracks Playground on 10th Street between Second and Third avenues.
Public Input Wanted on Abandoned Gowanus Playground
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GOWANUS — Today it's a rubble-strewn empty lot, but decades ago the land under the subway tracks on 10th Street and Third Avenue was a playground where kids played handball.

Now there's a move to revive the abandoned public space and locals are invited to give their input at a meeting Monday. The Gowanus Alliance is co-hosting the meeting with the nonprofit Gowanus Canal Conservancy at The Bachhe, 191 Seventh St., 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

"The space presents a unique opportunity," said Paul Basile of the Gowanus Alliance. "You ask a lot of the old-timers in the neighborhood and they remember the handball tournaments there. Like the rest of the area, at some point it fell into disrepair. We think it could rebound and serve a greater purpose."

One idea is to use the space to display the iconic letters from the Kentile Floors sign, which was removed from the neighborhood's skyline in 2014. Others have suggested creating a dog run or an outdoor market there, and some have suggested installing modular artist's studios on the land, Basile said.

Old handball courts with the Parks Department logo on them are still visible through the padlocked chain link fence surrounding the lot, but the land is now full of parked cars and equipment such as dismantled scaffolding.

The MTA controls the lot and closed it to the public sometime in the late 1990s, Basile said.

Just prior to that, the city officially named the area the Fran Brady Under The Tracks Playground after a local activist. A few years later officials set aside about $900,000 to improve it, but the money was never spent, Basile said.

Recently the city refurbished St. Mary's Playground in Carroll Gardens — another public space that was languishing beneath subway tracks — and Basile said he's hopeful of a similar revival for Fran Brady Under The Tracks Playground.

“The city and the state and the MTA spent a lot of money on St. Mary’s, which is also under the tracks, and we don’t see why we shouldn’t get the same treatment on this side of the tracks," Basile said.