Velodrome coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park?

August 3, 2012 5:22:20 AM PDT
Brooklyn Bridge Park has an interesting dilemma on its hand.

The park has received a $40 million gift to build an indoor cycling track known as a velodrome, something cycling enthusiasts have been clamoring for for years, but is it best for the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood?

It's a problem most New York City parks would love to have, an enormous financial gift that comes with the caveat that it will be used to build a velodrome. The debate is just beginning.

The park transformed abandoned waterfront into lush green space, where trails are filled with people every day, and there is currently more construction under way near Pier 5 to building soccer fields and a promenade.

An old storage building at Furman and Monteque was slated to be used for maintenance until cycling enthusiast Joshua Rechnitz stepped in with the enormous financial gift.

"We have $40 million that's been appropriated for construction and soft costs," said Greg Brooks, of NYC Fieldhouse. "We have $10 million to go into a capital reserve, and we have 10 years worth of operating guarantees."

The building would be known as the Fieldhouse and would contain a banked indoor cycling track for racing, with seating for 2,500 spectators. The facility would be as large as a football field. For nearby residents, there are plenty of unanswered questions.

"Our issue is the streets can't handle the traffic from potentially special-interest bikers," said Linda Derosa, of the Willow Town Assocation. "I think there's special equipment. They'll have to cart their equipment in and out, so they'll have to come by car, probably. There's no parking in the facility the way it's designed now."

There is also the question of what indoor recreation facilities would be available for residents, not just the specialty cyclists.

"Indoor recreation is really important to the community," Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation President Regina Myer said. "It's something that committee members have been asking for for a long time. People love to see new parks, but they want to be able to use them throughout the year."

The Fieldhouse group still has to complete an environmental impact statement and win approval from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation before they can move forward with the project.

There is a long approval process ahead and nothing has been finalized. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says he looks forward to hearing input from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council, community boards 2 and 6, the general public and other stakeholders as the process moves forward.

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