Floyd Bennett Field is a 1,300-acre park located within Gateway National Recreation Area. Larger than Central Park and Prospect Park put together, it offers plenty of activities, including kayaking, hiking, biking, bird-watching and stargazing, and has a community garden and remote control airfield, but there is a lot more potential for one of the country’s first urban parks.
At the April 19th meeting of Community Board 18 (CB18), Terri Carta, Executive Director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve parklands around Jamaica Bay, gave a presentation on their vision for the future of Floyd Bennett Field, specifically three historic buildings, hangars 3 and 4, and building 26, all located along Flatbush Avenue.
Floyd Bennett Field was established in 1931 as New York City’s first municipal airport and became a national park in 1972. “There are lots of historic buildings, old hangars, that are ripe for use,” Carta said. “We’d like to see them reactivated for community benefit, and we need to hear from local community members what should go into these spaces.”
Outreach for ideas was conducted during the pandemic with local stakeholders, elected officials and government agencies. Among the many responses, survey participants said they would be interested in aquaculture labs, arts and cultural programs, floating classrooms, historical storytelling and underwater robotics.
JBRPC wants to conduct broader community engagement, and residents are encouraged to visit jbrpc.org/future to share their thoughts.
Carta said the National Park Service will receive a significant chunk of funding for the exterior rehabilitation of the three historic buildings from President Biden’s FY24 budget, which still has to be approved by Congress. Regarding timing, Carta explained, “Exterior rehab of the buildings could start at the beginning of 2025. Then, we’ll need time to work on the interior of the buildings, so we are looking at 2028.”
Board members expressed concern about security and transportation to the site and asked about programs that were discontinued during the pandemic. Carta said that many of the programs are coming back, especially with the launch of Floyd Bennett Field, Revealed!, a series of free events as part of its initiative to activate the park as a premier destination for recreation and enjoyment of nature.
We all know that traffic in Brooklyn does not get better; it only seems to get worse. Board member Frank Seddio spoke about plans to convert three lanes of a section of the BQE, between Atlantic and Metropolitan Avenues, into a two-lane roadway, calling the area a “disaster.” During the public hearing, board members voted unanimously to oppose the plan, which would only create more traffic in an already overburdened roadway. “I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams why having less lanes of traffic is going to be better for traffic,” Seddio said.
CB18 Parks Committee Chairperson Nancy Walby made a motion to approve Phase 2 of the reconstruction of Power Playground, located at the corner of Utica Avenue and Avenue N. Board members voted in favor of the $3 million project.
A presentation on the renovations was made at the October 2022 board meeting. Plans include adding an adult fitness space, a skate area and game tables, and renovating the existing basketball court (see “Repairing Our Roadways and Improving our Parks Discussed at Community Board Meeting,” Canarsie Courier, October 27, 2022).
The next meeting of CB18 will take place on Wednesday, April 17th at the board office, 1097 Bergen Avenue, as well as virtually.