In com-petition! Carmine Carro’s handicap parking spaces pit parents against seniors

Carl Fischer started a petition calling for handicap parking spaces at Carmine Carro Community Center.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Its a war of petition!

Marine Park moms are squaring off against local seniors in a battle over three handicap-parking spots the city is installing at a senior center located in Brooklyn’s biggest green space.

Disabled seniors say they need the spots to access services at the Carmine Carro Community Center — which attracts thousands of oldsters with free activities and workshops — while parents claim that inviting traffic through the park will put their kids in danger, and both sides have launched dueling petitions in opposition to one another!

“I started a petition that reached over 100 signatures in just hours,” said Marine Park mom Brittany Nunez about the petition launched on Jan. 22. “With all the recent injuries and deaths of young children at the hands of drivers, parents of this community do not understand why the parks department would put our children in such immediate danger.”

The city is in the process of installing three handicap spots at a drop-off area located inside Marine Park at the Carmine Carro Community Center, a response to separate petition authored by senior advocate Carl Fischer, who cobbled together about 100 signatures from area elders.

The seniors complain that the trek from the nearest public parking spots on Fillmore Avenue to the senior center is arduous in foul weather, and argued that just a couple parking spots would make a world of difference. 

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

However, once Nunez discovered the city’s scheme to accommodate disabled oldsters, she launched her own petition that quickly outpaced Fischer’s. At the time of publishing, the parental appeal has garnered more than 800 signatures, a reaction to the apparent danger of inviting motorists down a path frequented by youngsters, the mom claims. 

“This walkway is not only the entrance into the playground it is also the only path for children to use to access the bathrooms,” Nunez said. “Without community input the parks department has approved driving access into the park through the walkway that is the entrance to a playground that hundreds of children play at daily.”

It bears mentioning that drivers are already permitted to maneuver down the paved walkway to the Carro Center for pickups and drop offs, and that the city only plans to issue a meager 12 exclusive passes for the three spots, which may get axed anyway following a review next year, according to the borough’s chief parks honcho. 

“We are not inviting a hundred cars in, we are not creating a parking lot,” said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher . “Safety is always first and foremost in anything that we do in Parks, so like I said we are going to monitor this very closely, we are not going to put people at risk.” 

Fischer, meanwhile, said he’s disappointed in the blowback from parents, saying someone ought to the think of the seniors for a change. 

“She is not thinking of the needs of the people who have special needs and would like to use the premise like everyone else,” said Fischer. “It will deprive seniors of their need to have camaraderie and a little companionship during their day.” 

The new handicap spots will go into effect as part of a yearlong pilot program beginning Feb. 1 and concluding Jan. 31, 2021.