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Carmine Carro Field House is over budget and won't begin paying for itself for 300 years

Carmine Carro Field House is $11.5 million over budget

Brooklyn Daily
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The Carmine Carro Field House may be $11.5 million over budget, but the city says fear not: the building equipped with a high-tech geothermal heating and cooling system will pay for itself.

The only problem is it could take 300 years.

Parks Department officials told Brooklyn Daily last week that the cost overruns for the new field house — which was supposed to cost just $5 million — can be justified because the ultra-green building will ultimately save the city big bucks on utilities.

“The [field house’s] environmentally conscious design will save money in the long run, with energy use expected to be 45-percent lower than a building of comparable size,” said a Parks Department spokeswoman.

But the city wouldn’t provide utility costs for a city building “of comparable size,” leading some to question whether the Parks Department understands its own figures.

“How could they predict how much they’re saving if they don’t know the energy cost of a conventional building?” asked John Manzola, a member of the Marine Park Civic Association. “They’re just throwing numbers out.”

Manzola may not be wrong. After some number crunching, we learned that 12 generations of Marine Park residents will have used the field house before the building starts paying for itself.

Electricians and heating and air conditioning professionals say that it would cost the city about $7,000 a month to heat and cool something as large the field house — which is about the size of a tennis court.

“For a building of that size, using factory numbers that would be a good rough guess,” said Will Vassallo, Service Manager at Vigilante Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning.

With the energy savings, the Field House would save $3,150 per month, or $37,800 a year — meaning that it will work off its $11.5-million cost overrun in 304 years, give or take a few months.

Critics were floored by the number, and wondered what the city will look like — or if the field house will still be standing — when it will begin to start saving the city money.

“The Parks Department is absolutely correct, the field house will save money,” said Manzola. “And maybe my great, great grandchildren will be around to see it.”

Even Field House supporters were a bit surprised.

“Obviously, urchins have been budgeted more efficiently,” said Councilman Lew Fidler, who set aside millions to have the field house built. “Neverthele­ss, no matter how hard you try to say otherwise, this is a good thing for the neighborhood and its future. Not every state-of-the-art project with cutting-edge green technology belongs in Manhattan.”

But Vassallo said one doesn’t take advantage of high-end energy saving technology to save money.

“If you want to go green, from my experience, it generally does not pay off in most cases,” he said. “It’s mostly the feel-good feeling you get from doing it.”

Emails to the Parks Department for comment about the building’s cost overruns and our figures weren’t answered. All the agency sent us was the same comment claiming how the field house will save money in the long run.

The price of the community center, which is essentially one large meeting room, two bathrooms, and closets for storage, has ballooned from $5 to $16 million and has suffered countless delays.

The project is currently costing taxpayers $5,000 a square foot — more than the 104-story Freedom Tower in Manhattan, which is $1,456 per square foot.

The Freedom Tower is expected to be completed early next year, beating the Marine Park Field House, which — according to the city’s latest estimates — should open sometime this winter. Both projects began in earnest in 2008.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

liam from kensington says:
If you don't know what caused the cost overruns, why blame the green energy system being installed? It could be the contractor is simply lining his pockets, ordering $5,000 toilets, etc; it could have nothing to do with the cost effectiveness of the technology.
Aug. 16, 2012, 1:30 pm
tom from sunset park says:
Pay-back is premised on Israel bombing Iran sometime soon with the result of oil going to $800/bbl. That will get you the numbers you need.
Aug. 16, 2012, 4:46 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
That's a good point Tom.
Although, with all the nuclear weapons at hand, may cause a nuclear winter which will completely nullify any benefits an environmentally friendly system could have over a conventional one.
Aug. 17, 2012, 1:17 pm
Tinman from Sheepshead Bay says:
Overruns? What a surprise. We just have to look at the unfinished WTC to realize how original budgets are never met.
While the mayor nickles and dimes most of us to death, why isn't they cit investigating these lousy contractors and estimates that never meet the staring price.
Aug. 18, 2012, 9:44 am
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
Seriously Tinman, you must be new to this city. Your question certainly is logical but if you've been around the city as long as I you would realize by now that these contractors and suppliers charge exorbitant fees and then funnel some of that money back into politicians reelection funds. The politicians get elected again and then start the cycle over and over. That also applies to these so-called nonprofits that so many politicians have in their pocket. Essentially politicians are using our tax money to fund their campaign. Those shenanigans go all the way up the ladder to the presidency regardless of what political party is in office. My philosophy for many years now is to vote out incumbents, regardless of political persuasion.
Aug. 18, 2012, 9:47 pm
John Manzola from Marine Park says:
It has taken so long to build that everyone has forgotten that councilmen Herb Bermens five million dollars was presented to the Park Dept. to build a senior center not a field house. Carmine , Vinny and myself petitioned the councilmen for a senior center not a field house.The demographics of our community and the long waiting line to get into the Nature Centers Bldg. was outrageous . Every one knew we had 1800 seniors waiting to get in. The Parks Dept. and Lew Fidler will be happy when its open they will not have to answer any more tough questtions We must not allow the needs of our communiy go unanswered.
Aug. 19, 2012, 8:47 am
John Manzola from Marine Park says:
I have heard from all those people that remember the new building was to be a senior center and they must now voice their concerns to the powers that be not me let them hear your displeasure. This building was built for the Parks Dept. use not ours. They will encroach on our space. We need a senior center not a field house when will they understand ? We must have a forensic investigation and audit so this catastrophe and all those are accountable and make resrtitution to our needs. All whom agree eith me should not remaine silent go to the MPCA meeting ,Sept.18 and to the Community Board 18 meeting the following night. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
Aug. 19, 2012, 9:06 am
Shaun from Marine Park from Marine Park says:
Having been to the building at its opening this past Friday, I have no idea how a wheat silo could cost 15 million dollars to build. What an absolute waste of taxpayer money.
March 4, 2013, 10:01 am

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