A 35-year veteran of the Marine Park Civic Association who is a vociferous critic of the city’s long-delayed Marine Park Field House project was booted from the panel’s executive board for conduct unbecoming of a member on May 1.
The Marine Park Civic kicked John Manzola off the board after an outburst at the civic group’s monthly meeting on April 18 — an eruption over the controversial field house that ended in a shouting match between the senior, a Parks Department commissioner, and Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park).
Manzola, who was once the Association’s vice president, admitted that his passion got the better of him at the meeting.
“Some of my closest friends said I might have lost it, I was speaking too loudly,” said Manzola. “But when I explained my situation, they understood my temperament.”
Manzola, who is also a member of Community Board 18, doesn’t give up a chance to remind city officials that the field house — which he pushed for with the late Association President Carmine Carro, who the field house will be named for — is now costing the taxpayer about $5,000 a square foot, board members say.
The park house has taken more than four years to build, and its cost has ballooned from $6.5 million to $16 million.
“The cost of building a skyscraper in Manhattan would be cheaper per square foot and we didn’t have to buy the land!” Manzola often claims.
Once Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffries admitted that construction on the Marine Park Field House had been stopped for more than five months because the Parks Department cut corners and didn’t hold a citywide search for a qualified crew to install the project’s highly-technical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, Manzola fired off several questions about the project as Association President Greg Barrusso led Jeffries from the podium.
“Barusso was going to let [Jeffries] off the hook too early,” said Manzola.
Manzola said he wanted to ask Jeffries about the field house, as well as the need for green-thumbed volunteers to maintain city parks.
“I basically wanted to organize volunteers, but every time you bring up the issue you always get some beauracratic excuse from Parks and from our councilmembers,” said Manzola. “That’s why I wanted Jefferies to stick around a while.”
The ensuing shouting match between Manzola, Jeffries, and Councilman Fidler, who chimed in on Manzola’s push for volunteers, sparked the Board of Director’s vote, but some Association members feel that Manzola’s dismissal had more to do with the long-standing fued between the senior and Barrusso.
“There has been an ongoing issues with Manzola and the president,” said one Marine Park Civic Association board member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to remain in good standing with the group. “The president said ‘F— you John’ at a board meeting one time. It was the worst thing I’ve seen in 30 years.”
Barrusso’s alleged F-bomb came after Manzola asked for the minutes on a previous meeting, the board member recalled.
Of course, Manzola used some colorful language of his own.
Manzola said he apologized to Barrusso after the argument, but Barrusso never returned the courtesy.
Repeated calls to Barusso for comment were not returned. Maria D’Alessandro, the Marine Park Civic Association’s first vice president, refused to comment on Manzola’s dismissal.
Whilst off the executive board, Manzola will still be able to attend the monthly meetings, which are open to the public.
Manzola says that he isn’t bitter about being tossed out of the civic group, and board members should expect to see him at those monthly meetings.
“I will attend meetings and I will voice my feelings,” Manzola said. “I’ve always been an advocate for the community. Besides, I don’t want to go back on a board that doesn’t want me. I have enough problems fighting with the Parks Department.”
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4514.