Borough President wants developers to spare Maple Lanes

Borough President sides with bowlers, asks developers to keep Maple Lanes intact

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Borough President Markowitz is siding with bowlers poised to lose Brooklyn’s largest bowling alley and is encouraging developers planning to turn Maple Lanes into an upscale condo complex to keep a scaled-down version of the kingpin haven intact — or, better yet, move their project somewhere else.

Developers want to turn the recently sold alley into a 112-unit upscale apartment complex complete with a synagogue and underground parking for Borough Park’s growing Orthodox community, but longtime Maple Lane bowlers say the borough can’t lose the 52-year-old alley on 60th Street near 16th Avenue.

“It’s like a second home to me and the people on my league are like a second family,” said Kayla Cox, one of two dozen bowlers that packed a Borough Hall zoning hearing on Thursday. “Why can’t they build this on one of the many vacant lots in Brooklyn, rather than building it over a family-owned business?”

Waxing nostalgic about how he first got comfortable talking to girls at bowling alleys, Markowitz agreed, asking attorneys for the developers if a bowling alley could be incorporated into their plans or if the developers could buy another plot of land in the neighborhood and build an alley there.

“It’s a great family sport, one that I think is worth preserving,” Markowitz said.

Attorney Howard Weiss doubted developers would be willing to change their plans, but promised to take the request back to his client.

Borough bowlers said longtime establishments like Maple Lanes were important to middle-class Brooklynites, claiming that new, trendier alleys in Williamsburg are too expensive.

“The recession has hit many hard, but bowling at Maple Lanes still manages to be affordable,” said Christina Squitieri. “It gives families that don’t get a chance to spend time together a place to talk and cheer each other on.”

John LaSpina, whose father Peter opened Maple Lanes in 1960, said he sold the land because it was worth more than the value of the business. The developers who bought the property want Markowitz to rubber-stamp plans to change the bowling alley’s zoning from manufacturing to residential so they can raze the building and start construction. A residential zone already exists across the street from the alley.

Community Board 12 granted its approval earlier this month. Markowitz’s recommendation is just one step — and, much like the community board’s recommendation, not necessary — in the process toward getting the city’s approval.

Markowitz said he will make his decision within the next two weeks.

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Reader Feedback

Bob from Bay Ridge says:
You have got to be kidding me, Markowitz! You get 900 people evicted to build an arena that's going to cause the biggest traffic jams in the history of Brooklyn, killing lots of folks' property values, and you get all weepy OVER A BOWLING ALLEY????

How soon till he's finally gone, again???
Sept. 28, 2012, 8:16 am
Stan from Boro Park says:
Bob, this is the way Markowitz is asking for $money$. Once he gets more $money$ from the developer, Markowitz will change his words.
Sept. 28, 2012, 9:10 am
S from Brooklyn says:
Chutzpah: using eminent domain to build an arena and then turning around and asking big developers to spare a bowling alley.

Why couldn't they build Atlantic Yards on one of the many vacant lots in Brooklyn, rather than taking families' apartments?

Brooklyn will be a better place when Marty is finished his term.
Sept. 29, 2012, 5:40 pm
TJ from SUNSET PARK says:
If Marty went along with the Brooklyn Nets then he will go along with the demolition of Maple Lanes with development of Condo's there. Say goodbye to Maple Lanes.
Sept. 30, 2012, 1:33 am
Rufus from Canarsie says:
Prediction: when this deal gets approved & the new residential complex is built, there will be not 1 African-American or Latino family allowed to live there. Not a one.
Sept. 30, 2012, 1:49 pm
Joe from Borough Park says:
This is a joke and a shame from the beginning, first of all the company that bought Maple lanes is called Fairmont Lanes, this was done so people of the community would think the lanes were just taken over and would continue to be a bowling ally. Secondly the sale came out in the newpaper the same day the of the community board hearing, third Markowitz says all the right things and at the same time says change is enevitable. Politics is just that, a game where the middle class always lose. Marty should be ashamed of himself and his kangaroo court
Oct. 1, 2012, 9:05 am

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