Residents living around McGolrick Park have stepped up efforts to rescue the more than hundred year-old park, which in recent years has fallen into disrepair with broken fences, destroyed pathways, dilapidated benches, and a run down playground.
Now the residents are pushing forward fundraising efforts – petitioning Community Board 1 and encouraging local politicians like Councilmember Steve Levin and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to include funding for the park as part of their annual budgets.
Last week members of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance, a group formed in December to accelerate upkeep and rescue efforts for the Park, testified in front of Community Board 1 members requesting that fundraising efforts for the Park be made a major part of their next fiscal agenda with a particular focus on improving its playground.
“We will exhaust every potential avenue of fundraising in our efforts to save this Park,” said Marcy Boyle, a lifelong Greenpoint resident and member of the Alliance, and a former chairperson of the community board in the 1970s. “A great cross-section of Greenpoint – both old and new residents – really wants to see this park be invested in. This Park is precious to us.”
Concerned residents banded together after several safety concerns arose at the Park last year. The Park was subject to a number of acts of vandalism last summer – a maintenance building was set on fire, park benches were broken, and neighborhood dogs were threatened.
The 94th Precinct responded by providing 24-hour surveillance for the Park. But residents weren’t impressed by what appeared to be a quick fix solution.
“When the park is in disrepair it just opens it up to instances of vandalism,” said Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, a member of the Alliance who has lived across from the park for the past 10 years, often brought her five-year old daughter to the playground, and hung out with neighborhood moms there. “24 hour police presence on the block is unpleasant, and maintaining the park is a much more efficient way of alleviating the problems.”
Others have questioned the priorities of the City’s funding efforts.
“Is public funding supposed to benefit just the well to do or is it available equally to all citizens?” questioned Daniel Latorre, another member of the Alliance. “There needs to be more equitable distribution of capital. Many in the neighborhood believe the focus is too much on development of the waterfront instead of existing needs in the community.
The Alliance lost out on funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, a resource to fund environmentally friendly projects in the area affected by the Newtown Creek oil spill. The Park sits directly over the plume, and is eligible to receive part of the $19.5 million fund, which was set up following a settlement between the State and ExxonMobil. The Alliance however missed the deadline for the first round of funding, but will apply during a second round that is slated to take place later this year.
The Park was created in 1889 when the city of Brooklyn acquired the land. But it was named McGolrick Park in 1941 after Monsignor Edward J. McGolrick who helped establish a church, convent, rectory, hospital, lyceum, school, and playing field in the neighborhood in the early 20th Century. The last time the Park received any sort of capital reconstruction was almost 20 years ago in 1985 when City Councilman Ken Fisher helped fund new pavements, picnic tables, benches, and landscaping.
Local electeds too are rallying behind the Alliance’s efforts.
“There are considerable needs at McGolrick Park and Councilman Levin will continue to work with the community so that improvements to our neighborhood park are made,” said Matt Ojala, Levin’s Communications Director.