The East Brooklyn Congregation and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (EBC) invited nearly 1,000 members of their 26 congregations, schools and homeowners associations in East New York, Canarsie, Brownsville, Oceanhill and Bushwick to St. Paul Community Baptist Church on Hendrix Street last week to rally behind their plans to renovate parks in those neighborhoods.
Father Joseph Hoffman of St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, 138 Bleeker St. in Bushwick, presented the nearly $4 million plans to Borough President Eric Adams, who also attended the meeting with hopes that he might promise to make funding possible.
“President Adams, you have the capital funding to make these projects a reality,” Hoffman challenged the newly elected borough president. “How much money are you willing to commit to each of these projects?”
Adams rejected claims of funding in his budget to allocate to renovation projects, and said he would not make any promises until he received the final figures.
“I’ve been in office eight weeks and Marty [Markowitz] was here for 12 years,” Adams told the room of young athletes and parents. “I don’t know what my capital budget is, I don’t know how much money I can give and I would be doing a disservice to this entire community to commit a dollar amount that I don’t know.”
Although the congregation continued to press the borough president for a commitment, he responded that they would just have to wait.
“I will put money into this once I know the number that I will have,” he said. “I won’t write a check that my behind can’t cash.”
Adams left the church to cheers for his honesty and promise to reassess following his capital budget, after which, Assemblyman Rafael Espinal agreed that he too thinks it was too soon to ask for funding.
“I think it’s too soon to fully commit to any project,” Espinal said. “I think we need to do the right thing and fix the parks, but we can't commit until we know that we are going to repair the park.”
Following the forum, Alex Broz, teacher and baseball coach at EBC Bushwick High School at 1155 Dekalb Ave., said he hopes there would be funding in the future to repair the fields.
“We have to go to Crown Heights to play our home games because we don’t have a field,” he said. “We have to practice in the gym a lot and the fields just aren’t playable in the neighborhood.”
While the team currently practices on blacktops, he said they would continue to advocate for better facilities for all of the sports at their school.
“Everywhere across the city has a lot nicer fields, so it’s frustrating for us because we feel like we’re playing with one hand behind our backs,” he said. “We’re always going to be hopeful that they are going to be able to fix something.”