The Marine Park Nature Center and a possible, unconfirmed migrant camp at Floyd Bennett Field (FBF) were the main topic of conversation at the May 16th meeting of the Marine Park Community Association (MPCA), held at the Carmine Carro Center, at 3000 Fillmore Avenue.
MPCA President Rob Mazzuchin explained that, for now, the FBF migrant camp is just an idea that has been floated by the state, but nothing is confirmed in any way.
“As a board, we are not in favor of it,” he said. “From the board’s perspective, there’s no place for them to shop — they’re not going over the bridge so they’re going to have to walk three miles to a supermarket. They don’t have the facilities — showers or sewers there. That’s all we know.”
Attendees at the meeting voiced opposition to the idea of a migrant shelter at FBF. The historic site was New York City’s first municipal airport and then a naval air station and training reserve. Now, it’s part of the National Parks Service, boasting a visitor center, camping grounds, an athletic center, several historic hangers and more.
People pointed out that FBF isn’t near anything — no grocery stores, train stations and a single bus that only stops outside of the visitor center but not along the rest of the park. The migrants would essentially be deserted there.
There are wild animals in the park, albeit mostly small ones like raccoons and opossums. Tick populations have also been rising in FBF. Migrants would be subject to these threats if housed at the park.
Additionally, the NYPD, U.S. Marines and Coast Guard all have training grounds at FBF. If migrants were to stay there, it’s possible they, as undocumented immigrants, would bear witness to these secretive trainings, which could be a potential security concern.
Elected officials for the area are less than thrilled with this idea.
“Floyd Bennett Field is not a suitable place,” Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse said. “It would be unfair to even the migrants to be in Floyd Bennett Field. We don’t need no tent city in Floyd Bennett Field.”
Donald Cranston, a representative of Assemblywoman Jaime Williams’ office, shared similar views.
“That is not a place for a migrant center,” he said. “That is a place where thousands of people come on a Saturday/Sunday. Everybody in the community uses it. So, we’re going to fight, fight, fight this and we’re going to win this.”
Much of the remainder of the meeting was spent discussing updates to the Marine Park Salt Marsh and Nature Center. The center has been closed for months as the city does renovations on it.
A representative of the Marine Park Alliance (MPA) explained that the center was supposed to have a soft reopening on May 6th, but renovations to the air conditioning system were not completed in time. However, the trails have been open to the public the entire time.
It’s unclear just when the center will finally reopen, but visitors will find a host of new aspects to the building when it does open.
The back room of the center was redone, and the foundation of the building was fixed. A new gravel and re-laid stone path grace the walkways of the marsh. The back patio has new flooring and the driveway in front was repaved. The exhibits are all the same for now, but there’s a chance some of the older ones could be swapped out for new learning materials.
To see a full list of MPA events or to become a member, visit marineparkalliance.org.