Park politics

A meeting about Marine Park, Brooklyn's largest. 
A meeting about Marine Park, Brooklyn’s largest.  Photo Credit: Neon

Green Pastures

It may surprise you to hear that the largest of Brooklyn’s nearly 900 parks lies somewhere far from brownstones and F trains. In fact, the size winner is Marine Park, which services a swathe of neighborhoods in the southeastern part of the borough with everything from walking paths to cricket pitches.

More than 150 people crowded into the Carmine Carro Community Center Tuesday night for a “State of Marine Park” meeting organized by civic groups.

Concerns and requests ran the gamut. There were comments about the trash, like the beer bottles from men’s-league softball games.

Some people wanted to know when Brooklyn’s biggest park could expect a more full-time managerial presence from the Parks Department. Others wondered what the blue dots mean on trees (poor arboreal health, said borough parks commissioner Martin Maher). 

Could someone make sure the entrance by Stuart Street gets plowed when it snows? What about a farmers’ market somewhere within?

The questions and answers continued into the night, as avid bocce players cornered Maher outside to talk about their beloved courts.

But there was another group at the meeting, seated along the community center’s rounded wall, under the tapestry exhibit and across from the free doughnuts and Passover matzos. These were the politicians.

That included Borough President Eric Adams, Rep. Yvette Clarke, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, City Councilmen Alan Maisel and Robert Cornegy.

The meeting organizers said the politicians were there to hear about park concerns. They listened attentively, but their remarks and presence at this weekday community meeting underscore some of the politics to come in NYC. 

Some were doing necessary community check-ins, like Clarke, who almost got Ocasio-Cortezed by first-timer Adem Bunkeddeko last year. Bunkeddeko had criticized her for being out of touch with the district, so here she was hearing about garbage pickup just before the Mueller report’s release. She did, however, have repeated trouble remembering the district state senator’s name.

That was Gounardes, the Democrat who shocked the city by defeating entrenched Republican Marty Golden in the blue wave elections last year. Perhaps cognizant of the challenge of hanging onto his seat in a relatively conservative part of the borough, Gounardes talked about continuing some of the work of Golden, whose name has graced the signage of summer concerts in the park for years.

Then there was Adams, who already has his ericadams2021.com website ready for a mayoral race. Other potential candidates to replace Bill de Blasio have started staking out progressive positions similar to the current mayor’s.

But Adams, who is black and a former police officer, seems to be aiming for an expanded constituency that might appeal in parts of the city where trains don’t reach and not everyone’s on Twitter.

“I’m not a downtown borough president,” he said in Marine Park. He added that "we need to ensure we continue to increase the number of police in the community and make sure that we do not drop off in those numbers,” a contrast with some left-leaning reformers who want to limit or even shrink the size of the NYPD, more than 30,000 strong.

(A spokesman later said Adams’ “immediate focus on this is ensuring no sliding back in the headcount, as well as bringing more officers out from desk work and into communities on patrol.”)

Finally, you have Cornegy, whose district is a bunch of neighborhoods distant from the park. But Cornegy already has established a campaign account for borough president. Even if he really is the world’s tallest politician, it doesn’t hurt to raise his head in wider Kings County.

Maybe Marine Park will get some more funding or even that farmers’ market. Certainly, another political cycle will be upon us before then.