Community Board 2 Executive Committee Recommends Approval of LIU Athletic Field Expansion Proposal

Community Board 2 Executive Committee Recommends Approval of LIU Athletic Field Expansion Proposal
The Community Board 2 executive committee voted this week, recommending that LIU Brooklyn go forward with its planned athletic field expansion. (Photo by Antonia Massa)
The Community Board 2 executive committee voted this week, recommending that Long Island University Brooklyn go forward with its planned athletic field expansion. (Photo by Antonia Massa)

Community Board 2’s executive committee expressed its approval of a contentious proposal to expand Long Island University Brooklyn’s athletic field, voting unanimously at a meeting this Monday to recommend that the city proceed with the project. The approval came with one condition: That planners find a better arrangement for drop-off and layover of the buses that bring out-of-town teams to play on the fields, according to Robert Perris, the board’s district manager.

Right now, five university teams share one field that is adapted to accommodate each National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 sport. But if the expansion is approved, each team would have its own field, including a baseball field with stadium seating, The Nabe reported last month. The expansion – which has faced a mix of support and bitter disapproval in the community – could also result in the closure of surrounding streets, including Willoughby Street between Fleet Place and Ashland Place and Ashland Place between Willoughby Street and DeKalb Avenue.

Although Perris could not say for sure what prompted the board to give the plan the thumbs-up, he said that the attorney and designer for the expansion discussed concerns locals presented at a July public hearing and a June transportation committee meeting with the Board of Directors of University Towers, an apartment complex across from LIU on Willoughby Street.

“The committee felt like the applicants represented had taken the concerns seriously and made an effort to address them,” Perris said.

Catherine Del Buono, a University Towers resident, told The Nabe last month that she was concerned about the bright lights and noise emanating from the field. Ken Fisher, the attorney for LIU from the Cozen O’Connor law firm, said he thought these were issues that could be worked out and there would be different lights with the new design, according to Perris.

Residents were also concerned about the elimination of a painted median on Ashland Place – part of the expansion plan – noting that the removal would inconvenience ambulances and delivery trucks that use the space. But Fisher said at the meeting that he had walked around the area with Philip Habib, a traffic engineer, and concluded that the change would not be an issue, but may instead improve traffic conditions, according to Perris.

Eleven people spoke at Monday’s meeting, including Fisher and William Kentworthey of Cooper, Robertson & Partners, an architecture and urban design firm. Residents spoke too, making this the third time locals had an opportunity to voice concerns about the proposal, Perris said. Some residents said that they were concerned that there is not adequate funding for the entire expansion plan, and the streetscape improvements proposed with the field expansion would be unfulfilled promises, according to Perris.

The executive committee’s recommendation will go before the full board on Sept. 11, then the borough president, followed by the City Planning Commission and eventually the City Council, Perris said.

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