It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!
After a decade of construction, numerous stumbles and some lessons learned about environmental infrastructure, the Carmine Carro Community Center is now open to the public. Elected officials and the Carro family snipped the ribbon Friday morning, and park officials gave tours of the facility throughout the afternoon.
“The jewel of this community, Marine Park, now has its crown,” declared Charles D’Alessandro, Carmine Carro’s son-in-law who spoke on behalf of the family.
With a few friendly jibes about the long delays, D’Alessandro and the numerous elected officials who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony lauded the Parks Department for completing the first city building certified as LEED – an ambitious environmental standard.
As part of the environmental and energy efficient design, the rooftop boasts a solar farm that produces 10 percent of the building’s electrical needs. Vegetation on the roof insulates the building and reduces stormwater runoff, and the building’s temperature is managed by a geothermal system that unlocks the earth’s heat.
But the project had its fair share of stumbles, being three years late and more than $10 million over budget.
Money first began flowing from elected officials to develop the park in 2004, with an estimated budget of $5.5 million. That budget swelled to $11 million in 2008, and ended up costing approximately $16 million. (See chart at right to learn who funded the center.)
Some of the delays were due to contractor disputes, but others were simply the nature of attempting to do something as new and cutting edge as the environmental building, Parks brass said.
“You won’t find anything else like this in the five boroughs,” Parks Brooklyn Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey told Sheepshead Bites. He noted that green technologies are still maturing, and, like with computers in the 1990s, new technologies were coming out “every six months” that required them to review and revise their plans. “As appropriate it is to build it green, the technology was moving rapidly as we built it,” he said.
“It’s the first time out of the box with something this extraordinary,” newly-minted Parks Commissioner Veronica White told Sheepshead Bites. White presided over the ribbon cutting, and noted that the project was a clear priority when she came into her new role.
The geothermal technology is the costliest component in the construction, though Parks has stated in the past that it will decrease energy use by 45 percent, saving money over time.
Meanwhile, the project became a symbol of dysfunction at the Parks Department earlier this year, when a scathing report from Comptroller John Liu’s office blasted the agency for “not carrying out and overseeing capital construction projects in a timely and cost effective manner.” His report added that, in the case of the Marine Park Community Center, the Parks Department gave “no way for the public to know the status of the project, including the anticipated completion time,” and called the planning procedure “haphazard” and unreliable.
The new Carmine Carro Community Center has multipurpose rooms for community programs, a kitchen, skylights, fully accessible bathrooms, administrative offices and storage space. Programs for active adults and children will kick off later this month.
The center is named for Carmine Carro, a neighbor, activist and park advocate who lived across the street from the Park. He served as president of the Marine Park Civic Association for 16 years, and was known by friends and family as “the warden,” because he held the keys to the park. He served on Community Board 18, the local school board, on the board of trustees for the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance and was a founding member of the Hendrick I. Lott House Board.
Many in the neighborhood will perhaps remember him most from organzing the annual Halloween Festival that entertains thousands in the park grounds.
Carro passed away in 2005.