The Pitch for a Pitch in Commodore Barry Park

For those who have never spent time in Commodore Barry Park, it is a beautiful park right here in Fort Greene that happens to sit at a major crossroads of Brooklyn neighborhoods, surrounded by bike lanes and greenways.  This little photographic tour illustrates the case for a mixed-use turf soccer pitch there.  The park already boasts two baseball fields, a sizable swimming pool, two basketball courts, two hand ball courts, a paddle ball court, a large playground, and a newly landscaped greenspace with shady trees and chess tables.  Every inch of the park has a purpose, except that big, unloved concrete slab in the top left corner of this map…

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Here is a panorama of “The Slab”…

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If the Parks Department agreed to turf this lot, with some capital assistance from community partners, it would be an instant home for soccer (and mixed use athletics) in our neighborhood.  It could serve local youth leagues and schools who lack access to fields, and it could give adult leagues a home field.  Such all-ages appeal would attract families…and hopefully food trucks.

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Plenty of room in the shade for permanent seating for fans

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A vast unused space in the developing Navy Yard and Admiral’s Row district

Community events, like the popular Afropunk Fest in late August, could absolutely still do their thing on turf.  Folks can flock to this corner of the park (at Flushing Avenue and Navy Street) where a nexus of local bike paths and new bike share routes connect Fort Greene to other destination neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, and Dumbo.

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At the crossroads of Brooklyn’s busiest bike routes and greenways

The Navy Yard and Admiral’s Row are right across the street.  Admiral’s Row was transferred to the City last year, supposedly for development of a major supermarket for the 13,000 residents of the three housing projects nearby.  Suffice it to say the immediate area is about to get busy.  In the shadow of the BQE, Commodore Barry’s brightening presence can also bridge the discouraging divide of Park Avenue and stitch the Navy Yard district into the fabric of Fort Greene…

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Just two blocks for Fort Greene’s other historical park!

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A green oasis in the shadow of the BQE

Inviting food trucks into the mix, as they exist in Red Hook and elsewhere, is an exciting possibility.  Commodore Barry is full of potential parking locations, under the BQE being perhaps the most intriguing, and weatherproof…

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Plenty of all-weather parking, especially for local entrepreneurs with food trucks

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Now a divide, Park Avenue could be a seam sewing the fabric of Ft. Greene together

And lastly, it is worth mentioning that the park has a park station with restrooms…

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A large park station with restrooms

There is so much to love about Commodore Barry Park, and recent improvements are proof that the Parks Department wants it to be a community destination.  Turfing the concrete lot just seems like the perfect finishing touch to the park’s facelift, and would solve a critical lack of local fields available for wildly popular local sports like soccer and football.  I look forward to discussing this exciting proposal with local leaders and neighbors alike, and encourage everyone to chime in by voting in this blog’s polls (click here) and sharing your thoughts in the comments.  Thank you!

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Two baseball fields are a sea of green where neighbors come to play and cheer

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A permanent home for local sports in Brooklyn’s greatest neighborhood!

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Bound for Greener Pastures, Building Greener Pitches

Turf the Slab is here to help build Fort Greene a permanent home field for local sports at long last.

The goal is to build a turf field with lights on the unloved concrete slab in Commodore Barry Park, and promote a master plan that includes additional athletic fields and a Mondo track for area runners.   Click here to read all about the pitch for a pitch in Commodore Barry Park!

There are so many amazing public sports fields in Brooklyn, from Prospect Park to Red Hook, and now Brooklyn Bridge Park and Bushwick Inlet Park.  We think it’s Fort Greene’s turn.

Red Hook soccer fields

Red Hook soccer fields

Red Hook food trucks!

Red Hook food trucks!

McCarren Park mixed use field in Williamsburg with Mondo track for runners

McCarren Park mixed use field in Williamsburg with Mondo track for runners

New turf fields in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo

New turf fields in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo

New turf field in Bushwick Inlet Park in Greenpoint

New turf field in Bushwick Inlet Park in Greenpoint

“The Slab” in Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene…a future home field for local sports?

Imagine an official pitch in our own backyard; a community magnet for athletes and fans of all ages, and maybe even food trucks!

FORT GREENE TRIVIA:  Did you know thatCommodore Barry is the oldest park in Brooklyn?  Originally called “City Park”, it was purchased by the Village of Brooklyn in 1836 and was renamed after Commodore Barry in 1951, owing to its proximity to the Brooklyn Navy Yard that Barry helped found.  Fort Greene Park, originally called “Washington Park, was a close second dating to 1847.  It was named Fort Greene in 1897 when its Olmsted and Vaux makeover was finally completed.

While growing fields and a sports community in Commodore Barry Park is our top priority, we also support efforts to revitalize Fort Greene Park.  We are blessed to have two such amazing, historic parks in one little neighborhood, and they both deserve the greenest futures we can make for them.  Now that the “Dustbowl” soccer game is over, it is important that Parks be allowed to reseed Fort Greene Park’s oval properly and tackle lingering drainage issues.

The photos below offer us all a sense of what Parks can accomplish with our support.  Here is the oval in 2013, after a the Dustbowl soccer game trampled reseeding efforts in 2005-2006

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Here is a rare picture of the oval before the soccer game arrived…

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The Parks Department and dedicated local leaders and neighbors have brought Fort Greene Park back from the dead, and returned it to greatness.  Thanks to their tireless efforts, the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument has been lovingly restored, but it now looms over a desolate oval.  It is safe to say that Olmsted and Vaux never envisioned a dustbowl as the centerpiece of our fair park.  To experience their vision, head to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park…

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Ours is not the only Olmsted and Vaux oval to see hard times.  Central Park’s “Great Lawn” also had a “Great Dustbowl” phase, thanks to unregulated use in the 1960’s and 70s’…

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However, in 1995, it was closed for a two-year restoration…

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And today a well-regulated Great Lawn is once again a lush green retreat for the public, that also hosts concerts and permitted baseball leagues.

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It’s time our little oval got a similar chance to come back healthy and green once and for all.  We hope to provide you a full Parks department assessment on what that process may require, from re-seeding to proper drainage.  When the time comes, we look forward to raising community awareness and support.

This is a community movement, so let’s hear from you!  This site is a forum to share ideas, information, and resources, so please feel free to comment here.  We intend to keep the conversation positive and productive.  Angry speech and personal attacks should find other outlets.  Thank you for understanding.  Now let’s get to work!!!