FORT GREENE — The city has $5 million to spend on revamping the north side of Fort Greene Park and they want residents to tell them how to use it.
The Parks Department presented a preliminary look at what the Myrtle Avenue side of the park may look like after construction, slated to last between a year and 18 months, said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher in a presentation Wednesday night.
Currently, the project focuses mostly on the park’s northwest corner where the city plans to rebuild basketball courts, barbecuing stations, seating, lighting, pavement and drainage systems. The plan also calls for repaving Myrtle Avenue’s sidewalks adjacent to the park and revamping the small oval entrance at Washington Park on the northeast corner.
The city is looking to present a final design plan to the local community board in June, Maher said, but is looking for public input beforehand.
Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting brought ideas for the project but also criticisms of the Parks Department’s communication about the plan; some attendees held signs reading “No One Asked Us.”
Some worried the improvements would make the park less accessible, particularly for residents of the public housing complexes directly across the street.
“We’re concerned about further gentrification and the discouraging of residents of NYCHA housing from actually utilizing that side of the park,” said Jason Salmon, a representative of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, as several residents clapped.
In response, Maher said “our intention is not to displace any programs that exist now” and stressed that the agency is simply making improvements to the area of the park that most need them.
“This kind of stuff happens once every 50 years. So this is for the next 50 years. This is about the current generation and the future generation,” he said.
Residents offered suggestions and priorities to the parks department for the project, including making sure construction doesn’t affect a nearby nursing home. Others stressed the city should focus on recreation and green space, not more asphalt.
“We don’t want more pavement. We want more grass. We want more intimate spaces. We want more recreational opportunities for our kids, for our seniors. This is everyone’s backyard,” said Rachael Cole, a Fort Greene resident of 15 years.
The renovations are funded by the citywide Parks Without Borders initiative, a $40 million project that aims to make eight city parks more accessible, including Prospect and Jackie Robinson parks in Brooklyn, Van Cortlandt and Virginia parks in the Bronx, Seward Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens and Faber Park in Staten Island.
Residents who would like to submit suggestions or comments on the Fort Greene Park plan are encouraged to contact Brooklyn Community Board 2, Maher said.