They have to get the inside track!
Gowanusites must come up with a concrete plan to restore a long-shuttered, derelict playground underneath the elevated F and G tracks back into a public space before the Metropolitan Transit Authority — which owns the land — finds another use for it, say local leaders.
“We want to float a plan so that they have to consider this an option, before they make it something that’s not conducive to the quality of life we think we deserve,” said Paul Basile, president of local business association the Gowanus Alliance.
The city closed the Fran Brady Under the Tracks Playground, on 10th Street between Second and Third avenues, in the mid-’90s because the subway line that looms above it was a menace — chunks of concrete were falling off, posing a serious threat to the noggins of kids playing handball below, according to a New York Times report.
The transit agency finally began repairing the tracks in 2009, and now that the fix-up is nearing an end, the Gowanus Alliance is teaming up with local activist group Gowanus United and toxic waterway stewards the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to plot a new purpose for the neglected space.
The groups held a meeting with other residents on Monday, where attendees suggested turning it into a gathering place for food trucks, a sculpture garden, an outdoor theater, and a public art gallery.
Some would like to erect a monument for the park’s namesake Fran Brady — a lifelong local who campaigned to revitalize the playground in the ’90s.
Many denizens would also like the space to house the old Kentile Floors sign, which the Alliance has been holding on to since the owner of the building it sat on took it down last year. The iconic typography was a daily sight for commuters on the elevated subway line, and would honor the park’s under-the-tracks roots, said Basile.
“So many people who rode the F and G are connected to those letters,” he said. “When we took possession of those letters, we wanted to introduce them back into the area.”
But not everyone in the neighborhood wants to see the playground return to its former recreational state. One local business owner hopes to turn it into parking — either by leasing it out to a parking company, or handing it over the sanitation department for garbage trucks — which he said would free up much-needed on-street spaces for residents.
“I think the best use for this park is parking,” said Andrew Feinman, owner of Brooklyn 13th Street Holding Corp. “The area is desperately short on parking.”