HISTORY of the MARINE PARK CIVIC ASSOCIATION
At the turn of the century developers began making elaborate plans to turn Jamaica Bay into a port dredging Rockaway channel to allow large ships to enter the proposed harbor. Speculators anticipated a real estate boom and bought land along the Jamaica Bay waterfront. Fearing that the relatively pristine marshland around Gerritsen Creek would be destroyed, Frederick B. Pratt and Alfred T. White offered the city 150 acres in the area for use as a park in 1917.
After a seven-year delay the City accepted the offer. The prospect of a new park inspired developers to erect new homes in the area and, in the year 1926 form the organization, Marine Park Civic Association. Fill deposited in the marshlands in the 1930s and land purchases increased the park’s area to 1822 acres by 1937. That year the Board of Aldermen named the site “Brooklyn Marine Park”. A series of additional land transactions including the 1974 transfer of 1024 acres to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Gateway National Recreation Area have stabilized the area of Marine Park at 798 acres including land underwater.
The Marine Park Civic Association was organized by a group of property owners in the vicinity of 2397 Flatbush Avenue between Avenue S and Avenue T on or about September 26, 1925, and was officially incorporated January 10, 1926.
The officers of the Marine Park Civic Association were:
Harold Cooke, President
Clark Fellows, Vice President
Erick A. Johnson, Secretary
Charles Leveen, Financial Secretary & Treasurer
Samuel Rohn, Sergeant at Arms
In 1926, a newly organized civic association, known as the Flatbush Center Civic Association, after holding its second meeting, seriously considered merging with the Marine Park Civic Association. After discussion regarding the changing of the name and who had a permanent charter, a special meeting was held and it was decided that both Associations would combine and retain the name – Marine Park Civic Association, thus making one big local civic association.
The following temporary officers were elected:
Herbert H. Mayhew, President
C. Hoffman, 1st Vice President
John J. Ross, 2nd Vice President
Walter B. Taylor, Secretary
Mrs. J.F. Carberry, Financial Secretary
George W. Hall, Treasurer
The opening meeting of the Marine Park Civic Association was held on Friday evening, September 16, 1927 at PS 207 on Fillmore Avenue and Kimball Street. Application for membership/dues was $1.00. A President’s message was included in all newsletters and continues to this day. The President’s message in 1936, from MPCA President Harold J. McLaughlin recognized the ten years of sustained progress in the community. He stated, “many civic problems have been satisfactorily solved, some remain to be solved and many new ones will, from time to time, arise. Geographically the size of our territory is the same but these ten years have changed it from farmland to a well populated residential community. It is the civic duty of every resident to work for the common good. Now, as never before, united action is necessary. Your officers and committees will carry out their respective jobs to the best of their abilities; the least every resident can do is to carry out his or her job, by active membership”.
Harold J. McLaughlin’s statement rings true today. The Marine Park Civic Association has enjoyed a ninety year history of accomplishments. We are proud of the fact that our organization is maintained and administered by twenty-five community volunteers who give their time to keep our twenty-five hundred member organization at the forefront of community groups. We have operated for the last ninety years without a paid employee.
The Marine Park Civic Association continues to be dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for the residents of Marine Park. We work closely with our elected officials, the NYC Parks Department, Community Board and other civic associations to disseminate information to the residents of our community on all matters of public interest and concern. We continue to hold monthly meetings as well as organize forums and town halls to discuss community opinions on relevant contemporary issues.
We are grateful to have enjoyed the leadership of some wonderful people. Presidents who have served the Marine Park Civic Association are as follows:
Harold Cooke September 1925-1926 (original MPCA)
Herbert A. Mayhew September 1926-January 1, 1927
Sidney L. Masone January 1, 1927-April 19,1928
Archibald J. Dalton April 20, 1928-December 31, 1931
John McSweeney January 1, 1932-December 31, 1935
Hon. Harold J. McLaughlin January 1, 1936-December 31, 1939
Virgil O. Gittus January 1, 1940-December 31, 1940
Hon. Harold J. McLaughlin January 1, 1941-December 1960 (re-elected)
Charles Bugeja January 1, 1961-December 31, 1968
Ralph Opre January 1, 1969-December 31, 1973
Opal Wentzell January 1, 1974-August 1980
Linda M. Bittar September 1, 1980-April 1981
Ralph Pugliese June 1, 1981-June 1992
Julia Gutierrez September 1, 1992-November 27, 1993
Carmine Carro December 1993-January 2005
Maria D’Alessandro February 2005-June 2005
Gregory Borruso June 2005-June 2012
Jim Ivaliotis June 2012-June 2014
Robert Tracey June 2014- present
Over the past ninety years, portions of Marine Park have been improved with recreational facilities, while others have been conserved to protect wildlife and plant life. In 1939, the Pratt-White athletic field was dedicated in tribute to the two fathers of Marine Park. A 210 acre golf course opened in 1963 and the John V. Lindsay Model Airport was dedicated in 1971. New ball fields were opened in 1979 and named for baseball lover and police officer Rocco Torre in 1997. Ongoing improvements at the end of the 20th century included the reconstruction of basketball, tennis and bocce courts; baseball fields; the Lenape playground. The Salt Marsh Center on Avenue U and Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail to observe unique regional flora and fauna was opened in 2000. There is now a launch and landing site for canoes and kayaks at Gerritsen inlet. Groundbreaking for the Carmine Carro Community Center took place in June 2008 and opened to the public in March 2013. Daily senior and active adult programs are offered – fitness, exercise, nutrition and healthy lifestyle classes as well as cultural and art programs such as painting, photography, music, knitting and crocheting. Computer learning classes and learn Italian are also available. Youth, family and community events take place on weekends.
A new sports center – Aviator Sports – has been developed in a portion of Floyd Bennett Field. The list of recreational activities offered is outstanding – gymnastics, soccer, ice hockey, ice skating, summer camp to name a few as well as festivals and holiday events. Marine Park continues to grow and evolve into a family oriented community that offers outdoor fun for both young and old Marine Park residents as well as residents of Brooklyn and New York City.
An extensive renovation project of Marine Park – bocce courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, handball courts and public seating started in the Fall of 2015 and is expected to be completed by late Fall 2016/early Spring 2017.
Through the years, the Marine Park Civic Association has been traditionally supportive and contributors to the local youth organized sports efforts – Joe Torre Little League, Hurricanes Football League, Mariners Football Association, the American Soccer League and the permit holders who utilize the park facilities. Those park facilities include two football fields, sixteen baseball fields, six pee wee fields, three soccer fields and six cricket fields located in Community Boards 17 and 18 in Brooklyn, New York. Every year we make a contribution to the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the O’Malley Irish Dancers who have provided entertainment for our March monthly meeting for over ten years. At the end of the school year, we present an award to students who have demonstrated outstanding citizenship. This year the MPCA gave a contribution to JHS 278 to provide financial assistance to students who would be traveling to attend a robotics competition which they qualified for after winning the New York region championship.
In its ninety year existence, the MPCA is proud of its community involvement. Listed below are some of the accomplishments and events held in partnership with the NYC Parks Department, Community Board and local politicians.
Sewers in Marine Park and paved streets.
Fought for Brooklyn College and Midwood High School.
Lobbied for wings on P.S. 207 and P.S. 222.
Defeated a plan to put a coke (fuel) manufacturing plant at Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue.
Defeated a plan to put an incinerator at Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue.
Instrumental in getting the assessments on sewers reduced.
Development of Marine Park including the filling in of the creek from Avenue U to Fillmore Avenue and the construction of athletic fields.
We have run two Anniversary Fairs with attendance in excess of fifty thousand.
We have held 30 annual Halloween Walks/Fall Festivals attended by thousands.
Marine Park has hosted the Opera, summer concerts, the Circus, Arts in the Park summer program for children and golf instruction for children.Back to School Festivals, Easter Egg hunts and Santa in the Park have been traditional annual events.
The purchase and installation of high-density lighting for the bocce courts.
Railings around the Marine Park community gardens and the total planting, development and support of the garden.
The purchase of litter containers throughout the Marine Park area.
A replacement and upgrade of the flagpole located at the Marine Park Field house with additional purchases of flags periodically.
Graffiti clean-up and educational programs in schools.
Several running races are held each year as well as walks/runs to benefit different charitable organizations such as Muscular Dystrophy and Cancer.
We supported the co-naming of many of our streets to honor those firemen and policemen in our community who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.Senator Martin Golden holds an annual candle lighting and memorial ceremony in Marine Park every year.
The MPCA sponsored a golf outing in Marine Park raising $5,300 for the benefit of the Hendrick I. Lott House, a historic landmark in Marine Park.The MPCA continues to provide support and participates in It’s My Park Days with clean-ups and activities.
Our Marine Park Youth Group was involved in several community efforts – graffiti removal, overall beautification projects, clean-ups and the Lott House.
Local schools, boy scouts and girl scouts have joined in clean-up efforts.
We defeated plans to install meters on Avenue S.
We have strongly voiced our opinions and concerns regarding many quality of life issues.
We have assisted in obtaining stop signs and installation of lights where needed.
The MPCA continues to monitor zoning concerns and violations as well as installation of cell towers.
Mayor Bloomberg had attended two civic meetings and worked with us trying to resolve some of the issues facing our community – cell towers, dollar vans, day care centers setting up business in one-family homes, establishment of group homes and zoning violations.Education programs were restored.
We hold monthly community meetings to keep our membership informed of issues or concerns in the community as well as to update them on important events or programs which would benefit them.
We continue to remind our membership the importance of voting and making their voice heard.
We continue to work in partnership with our local police precinct.They attend our monthly community meetings and update us with any recent crime activity as well as to remind us how to keep ourselves and families safe. .
The MPCA works together with other Civic Associations in Brooklyn so that we can continue to provide a united effort in keeping the character of our neighborhoods intact and vibrant.
Presently, the Marine Park Civic Association, with the help of its membership and local elected officials continue their efforts to keep the Marine Park community and surrounding neighborhoods high on the list of places people wish to live and raise their families. One quick tour of our community and it is easy to see why we care.