The highly anticipated opening of the new “green” Marine Park field house has again been postponed, and city officials, who blame the building’s high-tech, environmentally friendly design for the delay, aren’t sure when the ribbon on the new facility will be snipped.
“Right now I would guess [the opening] will happen in the spring of 2012,” city Parks official Marty Mar told Community Board 18 at the group’s May 18 meeting — shooting down earlier estimates that the building at the corner of Fillmore Avenue and Stuart Street will be completed this fall. “But good things happen to those who wait.”
Mar’s predictions came as a slap in the face to Marine Park residents eagerly awaiting the opening of the new park house, which will be named after beloved neighborhood civic leader Carmine Carro and hold daily programs for senior citizens.
“It’s taking way too long to build this building,” said John Manzola, a Marine Park senior citizen and longtime member of Community Board 18. “We’d like to see it in our lifetime!”
The project was expected to be completed in 2009, but the city says the environmentally conscious technology the building will utilize — it’s constructed with recycled materials and has a green roof and solar cells that will generate five percent of the building’s energy — has proven to be a problem for the contractors hired to do the job.
The latest delay was caused by the building’s high-tech geo-thermal heating and cooling system, Mar told the board.
“The company we had hired to do the job defaulted and none of the other companies attached to the project could do it,” Mar said, adding that the building’s heating and air-conditioning system “actually uses the coolness of the Earth to help regulate temperatures in the building, so we don’t want Joe the handyman to do it.”
Money has also become a factor, Mar explained.
“The prices we coined … four years ago have changed,” he said. “When we opened things up for new bids, we had to get some new money.”
The cost of the project has ballooned over the last several years: in 2008, when Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park), state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Marine Park, Bay Ridge) and Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) announced that the project had a green light, the field house was going to cost $6.5 million. Today, the price tag is more than $10 million, critics say.
“I heard it was $14 million,” Manzola said. “I could build a skyscraper for $14 million! This is a disgrace.”
Questions regarding the project’s current cost were not returned by late Monday.
The field house will provide meeting space for seniors and civic groups, storage space for parks employees and bathrooms for park-goers once it is completed.
But the project’s been plagued with problems from the outset.
When it was first proposed more than 100 contractors reviewed the architectural designs, but only two put in bids to build it.
One put the price tag on construction at $5 million; the other said they’d do the job for $7 million. When the low bidder eventually dropped out, the city was left with only one option that it could not afford, officials said.
Construction delays and contract defaults have repeatedly pushed the project back — forcing park-goers to use toilet trailers that were put in the park back in 2008.