What a relief!

Here at last: Marine Park celebrated the grand opening of the long-awaited Carmine Carro Community Center on Friday.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

You could always go to Marine Park, but now you can go in Marine Park!

The city cut the ribbon Friday on Marine Park’s long-awaited Carmine Carro Community Center, the $16-million bathroom and meeting facility that’s been in progress since 2003, marking the dawn of a plumbing renaissance for park patrons who have had to tinkle in a trailer for nearly a decade.

“This is a step forward,” said Bergen Beach resident Amos Vered. “Eight years ago, you entered the bathrooms at your own risk.”

The inaugural bash came stocked with hoagies, pasta salad, and politicians — including Councilman Lew Fidler, state Assemblyman Alan Maisel, state Sen. Marty Golden, and Borough President Markowitz, who one and all spoke fondly of the field house’s namesake.

“I can’t think of anything better and more appropriate than naming this center for Carmine,” said Fidler, speaking before an audience of community members, park fans, and family of the deceased Carro, a former president of the Marine Park Civic Association. “Marine Park is not a place where dreams die, and today we’re living his.”

They spoke of the park’s future and the community center’s place in it, hailing it as a gathering spot for young and old alike to enjoy activities in the state-of-the-art, ultra-green facility.

“This is all about the community, about the surrounding community, about the kids, and the families, and the seniors who will use this, not just today, but ten years, fifteen years, thirty years, fifty years from now,” said Golden. “People will have the opportunity to go to a center and get help to address the needs of their senior population, youth population and family population, and that was Carmine’s dream.”

Of course, the elected orators couldn’t help but touch on the field house’s troubled past as well, saying they grew into seniority along with the construction of what began as the Carmine Carro Senior Center, before its moniker was switched to community center.

“It is a wonderful day, because when this began, I started off middle age and now I’m a three year member of Medicaid,” said a jovial Markowitz.

Among the assembled audience at Friday’s ribbon cutting was the building’s engineer of record, Shahid Joarder, who blamed the city’s frugal bidding process on the building’s long delay.

“The city has to award the contract to the lowest bidder,” said Joarder. “So, you get what you pay for.”

And, by and large, Brooklynites seem rather pleased with the $16 million meeting hall, despite the fact that it cost nearly $10 million more than its original price tag of $6.5 million.

“It looks great,” said Manny Gerratano, a Marine Park resident. “It’s got a rotunda, I feel like it belongs in the White House!”

Some acknowledged the long wait and high costs, but said that, when all was said and done, Carro would have been proud.

“It gave us a lot of headaches,” said John Accardo, a member of the Marine Park Civic Association. “I know Carmine Carro is looking over his shoulder and smiling.”

John Manzola, an outspoken critic of the Parks Department and the agency’s handling of the field house’s construction, noted that the audience seemed generally impressed by the building, but that many weren’t aware of its incredible cost.

“If we got a forensic auditor to review this project, I don’t think they’d be as happy,” said Manzola.

The field house features a round meeting area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and two storage closets.

Marine Park field house is considered by some to be Southern Brooklyn’s biggest boondoggle — especially compared to much bigger projects, including the so-called Freedom Tower.

The Marine Park building cost taxpayers about $5,000 a square foot, while Manhattan’s 104-story skyscraper will cost $1,456 a square foot.

The field house is named for beloved civic leader Carmine Carro, who pushed for its construction since 1990. He died in 2005.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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