DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Closed for more than two decades, the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Plaza Park could reopen with a new visitor center, event space and a restored Wall of Honor, Borough President Eric Adams said Tuesday .
His office has secured only part of the $11.8 million needed for the renovation of the Downtown Brooklyn memorial, which has been closed because it doesn't comply with the American with Disabilities Act.
"It is ironic that many of our veterans who are experiencing physical disability cannot occupy or use this space," Adams said at a news conference on the eve of Veterans Day. "I'm going to ensure that the job is finished."
Veterans praised the efforts to finally reopen the War Memorial and make it accessible to Brooklyn residents for events and educational programs.
Roy and Jack Vanasco grew up in Fort Greene and served in the Navy and Army respectively between 1939 and 1947. The brothers said they often see buses filled with tourists stopping near the park but ignoring the massive War Memorial.
"They don't even know what the building is," said Jack Vanasco, 88, who was an army corporal.
The rainy Tuesday announcement began with an honor guard from the U.S. Air Force in front of the War Memorial that's dedicated to the Brooklyn men and women who served during World War II.
The memorial was first dedicated in 1951 but the final vision for the building was never fully realized because of lack of funding, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation's website.
The Vanasco brothers are "more than hopeful" that they're finally going to see the memorial reopened to the public to honor the more than 11,500 names etched onto the walls.
They held up a 2003 article of the New York Harbor Watch, which showed them alongside their two other brothers John and Joe, who also served in World War II. Roy and Jack currently own a Myrtle Avenue store, All Appliance Parts.
"I'm going to be 90 and Jack's two years younger than me, and we want to see it open," said Roy Vanasco.
"We want to open up those two iron-steel doors," he said, "and enjoy the company of all those names that are on that wall."
The renovation to the War Memorial will include a visitor and exhibition center, a roof terrace, an event space, a new elevator and a restoration to the "Wall of Honor."
Adams also announced a $3.8 million effort to landscape the surrounding green space and a restoration to Cadman Plaza Park that will cost $3.5 million.
The borough president has allocated $1 million to the renovation and an extra $500,000 to landscaping as part of his 2016 capital budget, he said.
Further funding for the renovation is still required. Officials estimated at least two years before the project is completed.
The War Memorial renovation is part of a larger initiative — announced in 2014 by Mayor Bill de Blasio — called "the Brooklyn Strand," a series of projects designed by WXY Architecture that seek to connect parkland and plazas.
Adams envisioned the renovated War Memorial as the centerpiece of the future Brooklyn Strand, he said.
"Those 25 years have really sent the message that we must finally ensure that this memorial is open," Adams said.