By Anna Gaberscik
Community Board 2’s executive committee will hold a public hearing on Long Island University Brooklyn’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application to expand its athletic field this Monday, Aug. 26 in the Zeckendorf Health Sciences Center on LIU Brooklyn’s campus.
The meeting follows a charged public hearing on July 22, during which some of the university’s neighbors expressed concern and anger over the expansion plan, which includes construction of fan seating for baseball games and the partial closing of sidewalks that would border the new fields on Willoughby Street and Ashland Place.
Participants The Nabe’s Teen Journalism Workshop interviewed local residents in and around Fort Greene Park and noted their mixed reactions to the proposed expansion.
Alec Stuart, 32, who was walking near the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Washington Park, said that the neighborhood was becoming very commercial.
Ariel Newton, an expectant mother sitting inside the playground in the park, said she was worried about how the construction work would affect local children. Standing near Newton, a thirty-something woman said that the sidewalk closures could affect her cab ride home from work. This woman’s friend said that her work commute might also suffer, but that she wasn’t bothered by the potential for increased crowd noise and night lighting at the new fields.
“You’re bound to have noise in New York,” she said.
She also said the enhanced facility could help build “Brooklyn sports pride” and that sports play an important role in students’ lives.
Lucien Redwood, 53, who owns Bittersweet, a café on DeKalb just southeast of the park, described himself as a sports fan, adding that the effects of construction are “a part of living in New York.”
However, Redwood didn’t think neighborhood residents would warm to LIU Brooklyn’s plan.
“Oh, they’re going to hate it,” he said.
Fort Greene residents, Redwood explained, are very protective over their area because of its historic character. He noted the dichotomy between local vistas and Williamsburg’s rapidly changing landscape, which he described as having “a hundred condos every ten feet.”
Though he sees the positive, the café owner is ultimately torn about his stance on the proposal for the new fields.
“I don’t know whether I’m for or against it,” he said.
Monday’s public hearing begins at 6 p.m. in room 121 of the Zeckendorf Health Sciences Center, which is accessible through Long Island University Brooklyn’s entrance on DeKalb Avenue. You can read the complete agenda for the meeting, including guidelines for community members who wish to speak, here.