$12m to overhaul war memorial, parks

Children play in “Appearing Rooms” one of the installations that are part of the “Please Touch the Art” exhibition by Danish artist Jeppe Hein at the Brooklyn bridge park Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in New York.
Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams last Thursday unveiled plans for near $12 million overhaul of the Brooklyn War Memorial and parks throughout the borough.

Flanked by the leadership of the Department of Parks and Recreation, elected officials, park advocates, and local veterans from across the borough, including former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, Adams outlined the details of his US$11.9 million in allocations during fiscal year 2016, which represents more than a two-fold increase from last year in his budgetary commitment to enhancing Brooklyn’s open space.

“From Greenpoint to Gowanus, from Cypress Hills to Canarsie, I am investing in open space that benefits Brooklynites of all backgrounds,” Adams told a press conference.

“Parks are our great equalizer, the backyard for all New Yorkers who don’t have one, turning people from someone living next door to you to your neighbor,” he added. “I believe in equitably funding and supporting them across our borough. This year’s capital budget enforces that investment in Brooklyn’s parks is not just good for our environment, but for the health of our children, our families, and our neighborhoods.”

Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey said New York City Parks is fortunate to have a “generous and conscientious partner” in Adams.

“Our borough’s parks are treasured by the neighborhoods they serve, and capital investments are crucial to renovating and improving them,” he said. “We thank Borough President Adams and look forward to working with him in the coming year.”

The announcement was highlighted by the allocation of $1 million to help overhaul handicapped accessibility at the Brooklyn War Memorial, a monument to over 300,000 Brooklynites who served in World War II that has been shuttered for 25 years, according to the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President.

“This is a giant step in the right direction for the Brooklyn War Memorial,” said Raymond Aalbue, executive director of United Military Veterans of Kings County, Inc.

“Borough President Adams was true to his word to start the renovation process. It’s now up to all of our elected officials to get the rest of the money to restore the memorial so the voices of all of our casualties of war will be heard, lest we forget”, he added.

“We are grateful to Borough President Eric Adams for taking this very important step toward the restoration of the Brooklyn War Memorial and the surrounding parkland,” said Toba Potosky, president of the Cadman Park Conservancy.

“In taking this action, he is fulfilling a promise to all Brooklyn veterans and their families. Under the leadership of Borough President Adams, the memorial can fulfill its promise of becoming a self-sufficient education and veterans’ center,” he added.

Adams allocated $500,000 toward the development of the Brooklyn Strand, an innovative project to connect open space in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, and Fort Greene. The funds will be used to convert a parking lot next to Brooklyn Borough Hall into open, shared space.

In Fort Greene, Adams said he has secured $1 million for Fort Greene Park, supporting improvements to paths, entrances, and drainage.

Down the road, in Prospect Park, he gave $500,000 to the Prospect Park Alliance for their project to restore the fence and sidewalks on the park side of Flatbush Avenue, as well as to create new entrances to Prospect Park from Flatbush Avenue; he also contributed $500,000 to an earlier phase of this effort last year.

“In communities across Brooklyn, our parks are cherished by area residents of all ages who frequent these beautiful open spaces to engage in recreational and educational activities,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, who represents the 35th Council District in Brooklyn. “Through the continued investment of City dollars, we can preserve and sustain our neighborhoods parks for future generations.”

Adams has also partnered with Council Member Brad Lander to support playground improvements at two parks in Gowanus, including $350,000 for St. Mary’s Playground and $650,000 for Ennis Playground.

In the nearby Columbia Waterfront District, Adams allotted $500,000 for the creation of Columbia Waterfront Park, a brand new two-acre space along the Brooklyn Greenway.

Working with Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Adams apportioned close to $1 million toward open space in Sunset Park, including $500,000 for new benches and repaved pathways inside Sunset Park as well as $450,000 to improve paving and create seating areas for safe educational use in the Butterfly Garden.

In partnership with Council Member Vincent Gentile, Adams also directed $1.25 million to renovate a deteriorating field and upgrade the track at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, a unique case where the Department of Parks and Recreation oversees a school field.

In Midwood, the Brooklyn Borough Adams worked alongside Council Member David Greenfield to fund $500,000 toward conversion to a synthetic multi-purpose field at Friend’s Field and $500,000 toward expansion of the playground and conversion to a synthetic field at Kolbert Park.

New parks projects receiving funding through Adams in fiscal year 2016 include: $1 million for renovating the playground and courts at Bildersee Playground in Canarsie; $500,000 for converting a field destroyed by overuse to synthetic turf at Cypress Hills Playground in East New York; and $500,000, in partnership with Council Member Rafael Espinal, for providing nighttime lighting for safe passage, creating a path, and restoring the existing natural turf at Hope Ballfield in Bushwick.

Adams also provided additional funding to two ongoing efforts that he supported last year, including $1 million toward BQGreen, a plan to decking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from South 3rd Street to South 5th Street in Williamsburg, and $850,000 toward the complete renovation of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint; those initiatives received $1 million and $500,000 in the previous fiscal cycle, respectively.

In addition, Adams has allocated $335,000 for street tree guards across Brooklyn, responding to calls from the community to fund local beautification efforts.

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