Kickballers want grills in McCarren Park

Kickballers want grills in McCarren Park
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Hungry kickball players are urging the city to install grills in bustling McCarren Park, claiming greater access to hot dogs and burgers will improve their play.

Brooklyn Kickball League Commissioner Kevin Dailey has approached Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) to request charcoal grill stations near Gilroy Field and around the McCarren Park track, arguing that the area is “underfed.”

“Something needs to be done about the lack of food availability in McCarren,” he said. “There’s not enough to keep up with demand and what we have is of little nutritional value.”

Kickball players have been known to fuel their bodies with suds more than sports drinks, and though restaurants abound in the park’s northwest and southeast border, there are only one or two regular street vendors inside the park offering more accessible comestibles.

Dailey believes that public grills will keep his players performing at peak levels on lazy Sunday afternoons.

“It’s a matter of basic biology — people get hungry when they run around in the sun,” he said. “Barbecuing is as American as George Washington striking out Benedict Arnold. We need it. People are hungry and when people are hungry they don’t play better.”

The city does not permit barbecuing anywhere in McCarren Park, but park-goers have illegally brought their own portable charcoal grills to several parts of the park for years with little incident.

But some North Brooklynites who live near the park say that it will be difficult for the city to find an appropriate area for permanent cooking fixtures in the always-crowded green space.

“The park is already oversaturated with athletic areas where aerobic needs are great, and there’s a shortage of passive park space to just sit and hang out,” said Williamsburg resident Meredith Chesney, whose hair salon Miss Mousey Brown borders the park. “I see a major clash coming down the pike if the city goes that route.”

A clash over grilling in McCarren Park wouldn’t be the area’s first barbecue battle: newly installed grills in Williamsburg’s Cooper Park sparked a flare-up between fans of outdoor cooking and park neighbors who fear litter and smoke.

Kickball players largely approve of any plan that would add grills near their ball fields.

“It’s a great idea, but it has to be safe,” said Recession Aggression’s Amanda Donelan. “My only fear is the ball flying and hitting the grills — you always have to be careful around an open flame.”

And New Frontiersmen ace pitcher Jessica Seibert says that even the league’s vegans would join the fun.

“You can grill tofu and seitan,” she said. “This is Brooklyn — half the people here are vegan and the other half like bacon because it’s trendy.”

A Levin spokesman said the councilman has not taken a position on barbecuing in McCarren Park, but is open to hearing more about specific proposals.

A parks spokesman said the agency has not received any requests for grills.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

Food and fun: Kickballers want a designated area for barbecuing near McCarren Park’s ball fields.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini