Locals: This site isn’t run of the mill

Brooklyn Daily
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These Marine Park history buffs want to see a sign of the old times.

Residents are teaming up with their councilman to preserve — and publicize — the remains of a mill that’s more than 360 years old.

The remnants of the Gerritsen Mill reside at the Salt Marsh Nature Center and one local leading the charge to get the Parks Department to mark the spot said he wants the community to know the area’s rich history.

“This is like the last historic location in Brooklyn that I’m aware of,” said Bob Kaplan, who hopes for an official sign commemorating the former mill. “They’ll put something past, preset, and future for the mill — hopefully a giant picture of it.”

The Gerritsen Mill, built in the 1630s, is believed to be one of the first water-powered mills in the country, and Kaplan said it stood until 1935, when it was destroyed in a fire.

Kaplan said he teamed up with fellow local Thomas Whitford to convince the Parks Department to install signs with historical tidbits about the mill, but Kaplan said the department wants a letter from Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) before it begins the process.

A Parks spokeswoman said asking for input from elected officials is standard procedure for the department so it can gauge the community’s desire for a project.

“In general, we want to ensure that proposals such as this one have broad community support,” said Maeri Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the department. “Receiving the endorsement of a city councilmember is an efficient way to demonstrate that.”

Maisel said he is in the process of drafting a letter to the department and he said a sign would be a valuable way to inform community members — especially youngsters — about the neighborhood’s past.

“As a teacher, just having this is an educational issue,” said Maisel, who was a history teacher before he became an elected official. “Anything we can do to educate the kids about the history of our community, which is interesting.”

Maisel said Kaplan has also suggested building a historically accurate reconstruction of the mill, but he said the cost of that project would make waves in the community.

“That is something I would love to see but that is going to cost millions of dollars,” Maisel said.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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