Wielding designs for the total $9.2 million plan last week -- including a synthetic turf athletic field, pitcher's mound, dugouts, additional lighting and park overhaul plan and $1.5 million comfort station -- the congregation at Saint Joseph’s Patron of Universal Church called on Councilman Antonio Reynoso for his support.
After marching with hundreds of EBC members from the church at 185 Suydam St. to the park on Sunday to show his support for the plan in the 34th District, Reynoso announced to the crowd that he would do his best to help fund the $1.5 million bathroom building in the park.
“At this moment, the City Council doesn’t know how much money they’re going to be receiving for discretionary funding,” Reynoso said. “But I am committed to making sure we get a comfort station in here when the resources make themselves available.”
Although Reynoso reminded the crowd that he still awaits his final budget from the City Council and support from the city, he added there is universal support to create parks throughout the city.
“The Parks Department, the Borough President’s office and my office are working together to find a way to make that happen as a group,” he said. “Hopefully in a couple of years we can get something done.”
Although Father Claudio Holzer, pastor of St. Joseph’s Patron of Universal Church, is happy the councilman assured his support for the bathrooms in the park, he added that he hopes the city will consider the EBC’s proposal for AstroTurf at Green Central Knoll Park, which is near his church.
“Most of the time you cannot use it because it is either too wet, too slippery and everything else,” Holzer said.
Jesus Navarrete, a parishioner of Saint Joseph’s and EBC member, has also been advocating for enhancements at several parks in the Bushwick community.
“They’re abandoned,” Navarrete said. “We are just a group a parents who are worried about their kids and their health, and we don’t want them in the streets hanging around.”
Navarrete and the EBC rallied for support from Councilman Rafael Espinal last month at Heckscher Park, located on Grove Street between Central and Wilson avenues.
“We need nice space for our kids to play,” he said.
Brooklyn Parks commissioner Kevin Jeffrey explained that there is very little maintenance involved with synthetic turf as it has a 12-month mobility.
“There’s a possibility that we could do a combination of synthetic turf – AstroTurf – and natural grass,” Jeffrey said after the rally on Sunday. “Synthetic turf is really good if you have an activity like soccer that tends to put a lot of wear and tear on parts of the field, and there may actually be room on this site to do both.”
Jeffrey said the safety of the park would also be a key focus.
He added that while there are nearly 25 park patrol officers in the borough -- with an expected 30 in the near future -- the new facility would need to be staffed with a maintenance person to provide an extra level of security.
“Those officers are certainly around and able to respond if there should be an issue,” he assured.
Although Borough President Eric Adams has yet to promise any funding for the park restoration program, he did say that he does plan to work with community-based organizations to focus on park repairs.
“In the urban environment, there are often too few spaces for children and adults to congregate, as well as to share fun recreational experiences,” Adams said. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with organizations to build and refurbish open spaces throughout Brooklyn.”