Residents gathered at the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park to voice their concerns about a migrant shelter in Floyd Bennett Field at the first meeting of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association (MMHCA) since the summer break.
On September 15th, New York City signed a lease agreement with the federal government to allow for tent-style shelters to be placed at Floyd Bennett Field to house 2,000 male migrants at a monthly cost of $1.7 million. Locals are displeased with the decision and are concerned about how elected officials will deal with the crisis since it could have long-term effects on the communities they represent.
At the September 21st meeting, attendees voiced their concerns, including background/criminal checks, health status, country of origin, how many additional migrants are expected at the site and how they will be kept track of.
Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse provided background information on the situation and spoke of her limitations as a councilmember. Still, she told constituents some of the things she could do, such as trying to bring as many judges as possible to vet the migrants.
Other concerns included how services will be provided to migrants if they stay, if they are meeting asylum requirements and how they will find employment. Some offered solutions such as closing the borders or emulating other cities such as Los Angeles as examples to follow. Narcisse said all solutions are being looked at, and she will continue to find ways to deal with the situation.
Assemblywoman Jaime Williams shared similar sentiments and told attendees that she followed up on a previous promise she made – to file a lawsuit against Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to stop the placement of a migrant camp on a federal site. The suit is similar to how a judge in Staten Island issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the former St. John Villa Academy from being used as a shelter for migrants. That suit was shortly overturned as the city appealed it hours later.
“It’s exactly what Staten Island did; the TRO would prevent the migrants from coming here,” said Williams. “We don’t have anything built and it’s to prevent them from moving onwards with any type of structure. Floyd Bennett is not an ideal space to be used to house migrants. I don’t know if you’ve been to Floyd Bennett, but it’s a flood zone, the slightest of rain. What are we doing here when there’s no infrastructure in place and you’re going to be pissing away $1.7 million a month and over. In one year, we’re talking about over $20 million. We’re not even incorporating how much it’s going to cost to put all those services there and to actually build that infrastructure out.”
Williams will continue her efforts as she has a court hearing on October 3rd and is scheduled to speak before Congress on Wednesday, September 27th.
“People are angry, but I think they’re more fearful for their families, their communities and the changes overall,” said MMHCA President Elizabeth Morrissey. “It’s not a solution. They’re just plopping them [migrants] here and nothing to help them. There’s no services. No one’s been talking about what kind of services we can provide. We’ve had brush fires at least twice a year. This is not a solution. This is a Band-Aid that is going to hurt when it gets ripped off.”
Co-founders of the Marine Park Pickleball Associates (MPPBA), Bob Spieler and Mike Chaiet, discussed the state of the pickleball courts in Marine Park. The courts were constructed earlier this year and are already in poor condition; notably, their poles and concrete are deteriorating. Spieler and Chaiet asked for help from Narcisse, Williams and the civic board to fix the courts and perhaps even convert a few additional tennis courts into pickleball courts. The MPPBA plans to put up additional courts around Brooklyn, give new members introductory lessons and form teams in high schools.