The proposed construction of a public multi-purpose athletic and recreation center along Furman Street just north of Joralemon in Brooklyn Bridge Park to be called The Fieldhouse was the subject of a special community meeting sponsored by the Willowtown Association on Wednesday evening, June 27, at 7:30 at the Alfred T. White Center on Willow Place.
Construction of the center will realize a feature of the park that to date was not possible because of financial restraints. Its estimated cost, $40 million, will be underwritten by Joshua P. Rechnitz, a Manhattan philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of the nonprofit corporation, The New York City Fieldhouse, dedicated to “promoting healthy and sustainable living in our communities through recreational and competitive sports with an emphasis on competitive track cycling.” The donation is one of the largest ever made to a New York City park. Mr. Rechnitz will also underwrite any shortfalls in operating revenue incurred by the center for the first 10 years.
Leaders of the June 27 meeting were Greg Brooks, newly named executive director of The New York City Fieldhouse Inc.; Kate Collignon, public relations consultant for the project; and Jean Phifer of the architectural firm retained to design the center, Thomas Phifer and Partners.
In introductory comments Brooks said that “this was a meeting to hear concerns and get information from the community, not to offer answers.” The main concerns expressed by the attendees dealt with the increase in vehicular traffic the fieldhouse would generate especially on Joralemon Street and parking. “Joralemon Street is already overburdened with cars,” one attendee said. “This issue must be made a priority.” Another noted that “parking in Willowtown has become much more difficult since the opening of the playgrounds on Pier 6 in the park.”
The outmoded one-story warehouse building on the site of the proposed center was to remain as a storage and maintenance facility for the park. The Fieldhouse is to include space for these purposes along with a public boathouse and restrooms.