By Makini Brice
City Limits, reporting from Citylimits.com
Brownsville Recreation Center may be beloved by people who visit its premises—but not so much by the cars that drive on Linden Boulevard, the major street that hems it in.
According to Community Board 16′s Statement of Needs for this year, the nighttime lights that have recently been installed at the center have led to a greater need for higher fences encircling the fields’ perimeter.
Viola Greene-Walker, the Brownsville-Ocean Hill community board’s district manager, says lights were installed last year for visitors to play softball outside at night, part of a series of renovations that have taken place at the center over the years.
Those new lights may pose a problem for motorists on the adjacent, and busy, Linden Boulevard. “Because the ballfield abuts a very busy eight-lane highway,” the community board wrote in its annual Statement of Needs, “the fence needs to be extended upward along Linden Boulevard to prevent balls from going into the street and endangering passing motorists.”
When asked who brought the issue to the attention of the community board, Greene-Walker said in an email, “My own observation and complaints from residents.”
Ahmad Sarwary, the deputy manager at the center, said that, in his six months of employment at the center, he had not heard of balls flying onto Linden Avenue. He said that the center currently takes precautions against such an occurrence by limiting softball players to younger children.
However, Sarwary agreed that the wall should be higher, though he could not say how high the fence currently was. “It’s [the center] packed almost every day, especially on weekends,” Sarwary said by telephone.
Brownsville Recreation Center, originally christened the Brownsville Boys’ Club, was first constructed in 1953. But, according to The New York Times, the center, like many parts of New York City during that time, fell into disrepair in the 1970s.
In the 1990s, the center experienced a resurgence. Intended to be a beacon for the neighborhood, the city undertook several significant renovation projects, including roof repairs and installation of security lighting. In 2008, according to the City of New York’s website, the center received $1.5 million worth of improvements, including the conversion of the athletic field outside.
According to traffic collision data provided by the New York Police Department, there was just one car accident in the proximity of the Brownsville Recreation Center; no one was injured and the report does not indicate anything about balls flying onto Linden Avenue. However, the data is from December of last year, when fewer people play outdoors.
The recreation center also has other issues with wear and tear. Earlier this year, the air conditioning proved to be a problem on the first floor. That has been repaired, but the winter’s cold weather has prevented the center from testing the system.
There are also several leaks in the building, including ones in the dance room and basketball gym. Sarwary said that tiles and walls have been damaged, but not equipment. He also said that the city’s Parks Department was aware of the problem, but is waiting for nicer weather to start repairs.