Handicap parkings spaces coming to Marine Park’s Carmine Carro Community Center

Carl Fischer stands where the new parking spots will be developed in front of the Carmine Carro Community Center.
Photo by Derrick Watterson.

The city’s most exclusive parking spots are coming to Marine Park!

The Parks Department announced its plan to install three handicap-parking spaces near Marine Park’s Carmine Carro Community Center — but only issue 12 permits for the handicapped spots — leaving disabled locals to compete for the highly coveted spaces. 

“[The senior center’s] official membership is in the excess of 5,000,” said Carl Fischer, a local senior advocate. “That’s why the whole situation is pretty amazing because that is a really large community. And I would say one in 10 people have disabilities.” 

As the green space’s only senior facility, the Carmine Carro Community Center attracts thousands of elders with free classes on fitness and health, art workshops, and other events that enrich the lives of area old-timers.

But the cherished community space — which cost a whopping $16 million and took a decade to build — lacks any onsite parking, and seniors are forced to trudge upwards of 250-feet through rain, sleet, and snow from the nearest public parking space on Fillmore Avenue to reach the senior center, which Fischer says can be rough on some disabled patrons. 

“To walk up that hill, especially in bad weather, became very much of a problem,” said Fischer.

Looking to shorten the trip, Fischer authored a petition that attracted around 100 signatures and persuaded the city to pursue a yearlong pilot program to test the feasibility of three handicapped spots, which Parks workers will install at the Carro center’s drop-off area on Feb. 1, according to Parks Department spokeswoman Anessa Hodgson. 

Disabled seniors looking to use the new spots will need a pre-existing handicap-parking placard issued through the city’s Department of Transportation, although it’s unclear what criteria the city will use in judging applications.

What’s sure is that competition for the limited-edition parking permits will be fierce, with dozens of seniors angling to nab the covered spots, Fischer said. 

“There will definitely be seniors who will miss out, but I think we will manage,” said Fischer. “Better some than none.”

Another local senior hailed the new handicap spots as a welcome if limited amenity for park goers, saying he hopes it will free up some parking on Fillmore Avenue.

“I think its a great idea,” Joe Devella said. “I think it will be advantageous for many users of the park. But three spaces will help a little bit, not a whole lot.” 

Marine Park Councilman Alan Maisel said he’s skeptical that three news spots would do much to improve the circumstances of disabled locals, but is nonetheless pleased that the move will not result in the loss of any green space. 

“I support a pilot program to see if we could help with some disabled parking but there is not much there and I am not sure if they would completely fulfill the need,” Maisel said. “But it is the best they can do because they are not going to take over parkland.”

The pilot program will go on for a year, after which the Parks Department will decide whether to keep the new parking spaces.