Bay Ridge velodrome offers an alternative to Brooklyn Bridge Park

August 22, 2012 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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In view of the controversy over the proposed NYC Fieldhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park and its centerpiece, a bicycle “velodrome,” an alternate velodrome proposal has come to light.

That Bay Ridge-based proposal, known as the Brooklyn Velodrome, has a detailed, illustrated web site, but little contact information. Indeed, it seems to be shrouded in mystery.

A velodrome is a racing track, banked 45 degrees or more at the curves, for competitive bicycle racing. The only outdoor velodrome in New York is at Kissena Park in Queens, and there is only one indoor velodrome in the U.S., the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Carson, Calif.

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The NYC Fieldhouse proposal, which would occupy an old storage building between Piers 4 and 5, is for an indoor velodrome. It has been proposed by millionaire bike-racing fan Joshua Rechnitz, who has offered $40 million to build the facility.

The Fieldhouse will also contain space for other activities, such as basketball, volleyball, yoga and Pilates, according to Maureen Connelly, a spokeswoman for the project.

By contrast, the Brooklyn Velodrome, proposed for a site within Shore Road Park near 97th Street, would be an outdoor one. The site boosts the area’s “available open space, dramatic views over New York Harbor, existing supporting facilities and easy access by subways and buses, private vehicles and designated bicycle routes.”

The site adds that “the slopes of the park’s topography is ideal for spectators and views of the harbor.” It contains alternate proposals for 333- and 250-meter velodromes.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park proposal would be for a 200-meter velodrome, Greg Brooks, the executive director of NYC Fieldhouse, told CBS New York in July.

An e-mail to the contact on the Ridge-based site, [email protected], was not returned, and several Bay Ridge community leaders, including Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, told the Eagle they had not heard of it.

Milton Puryear, a founder and trustee of the Brooklyn Greenway Project, which is linked within the site, said, “I’ve heard of the proposal, but I’m not aware of anyone doing anything with it. People have wanted a velodrome in New York for years.”

Charles Otey, columnist for this paper and executive secretary of the Merchants of Third Avenue (Bay Ridge) called a velodrome within Shore Road Park “a foolish idea.”

“People love that part of the park, there are many volunteers who have cleaned it up scores of times, and people would fight to preserve the park,” he said.

The Brooklyn Velodrome website is dated 2010-11, and it’s possible that the proposal may no longer be active.

Meanwhile, according to Connelly, the proposal for the NYC Fieldhouse is being fine-tuned.

Original plans called for athletic activities to be held within the oval of the velodrome. However, those plans are being modified in the wake of meetings the organization has had with the public at Long Island College Hospital, St. Francis College and in Red Hook.

A formal proposal, Connelly said, won’t be released until the fall. So far, no renderings of the facility have been released.

A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation says the park has been “working with [the Fieldhouse organization] to see what they come up with,” although the project still needs final approval.

Competitive bicycle racing was extremely popular during the 1920s, and at that time New York City boasted at least two, the New York Velodrome (in Marble Hill, northern Manhattan) and the Coney Island Velodrome. Both were also famous for boxing.

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