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Brooklyn's boondoggle

City: Funding for Marine Park Field House halted

Brooklyn Daily

If you thought work has slowed on the new Marine Park Community Center, you’d be wrong — it’s stopped completely, city Parks Department officials confirmed this week.

The city Comptroller’s Office cut off the project’s funding in December — stopping the one-story green community center that ballooned from $6.5 to $16 million in its tracks.

Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey said construction workers walked off the site after not getting paid for several months worth of work.

Yet the Comptroller’s office said that Parks Department officials were the ones who goofed.

The agency was supposed to hold a citywide bid search for a qualified crew to install the project’s highly-technical heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, but decided to give the job to T. Moriarty and Sons, one of the construction crews already working on the project, the spokesman said. The move was against city policy, so the Comptroller’s Officer blocked the project’s funding until a proper bidding process could begin.

Jeffrey admitted the mistake to members of the Marine Park Civic Association last week.

“There’s fine language that indicates we should have gone to bid instead of assigning the work to an existing contractor,” Jeffrey said. “One of the challenges with going to bid is the length of the process. It would throw us back another six to nine months, but we already have Moriarty down there on site and he was proven to be a very qualified contractor.”

Jefferies told Association members that he expects work on the community center to resume in May. The six months of work left on the project should be completed sometime in November, he said.

Community leaders were surprised that the city was taking so long — and spending so much money — to create a one story building that’s essentially a community room with a toilet

“At this moment we don’t have any faith,” said Barusso. “We hope that Commissioner Jeffrey has the know how to get it done. But I don’t have faith in Parks. If May comes and we see work being done then our faith will be restored. If not, I don’t think there will be any faith left.”

Others scoffed at the project’s hefty price tag.

“The building is in the neighborhood of $5,000 per usable square foot,” said community activist John Manzola. “The cost of building a skyscraper in Manhattan would be cheaper per square foot and, in this case, we didn’t have to buy the land!”

Who’s watching the money?” he asked. “Fidler gets the money, drops it into the Parks Department’s lap, and the department just lets it ride. Nobody’s watching procedure.”

There have been no working bathrooms in Marine Park since the project began in 2008 — forcing park-“goers” to use toilet trailers brought to the park.

The project will be named for beloved civic leader Carmine Carro, who had been pushing for a new park house since 1990 when he died in 2005.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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