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Reclusive Philanthropist Gives Brooklyn Park $50 Million, Along With Peculiar Demand

Joshua Rechnitz Wants The Money To Be Used For A State-Of-The-Art Velodrome
Velodrome

A reclusive philanthropist has given New York City $50 million, but not totally out of the goodness of his heart. He wants the city to be a velodrome. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn park has received a $50 million gift — the largest in city park history. It was a donation from a reclusive philanthropist to build a velodrome.

Believe it or not, a rundown warehouse on the waterfront is the repository of one man’s dream. Joshua Rechnitz is willing to put his money where his mouth is to build a state-of-the-art cycling track, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

“The velodrome itself will be a 200-meter banked track,” said Greg Brooks, the executive director of NYC Fieldhouse.

“Velodrome” is not exactly a word that’s big on the streets of Brooklyn, so to explain it’s a special track for those who race a special kind of bicycle.

“Not bicycles from the street, they’re actually fixed-gear bikes that do not have brakes. People can go up to 50 miles, 52 miles an hour on these bikes. It’s a very popular sport in Europe,” Brooks said.

They are seen in London and it’s an Olympic sport, but Rechnitz’s dream is to build a velodrome with a track and seating on the outer limits of the building. In the middle will be a mixed-use sports facility.

“That could include basketball; that could include volleyball, tennis and gymnastics and Pilates,” Brooks said.

Regina Myer of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation said she is excited about it being in her park.

“We’re thrilled abut the magnitude of the gift,” Myer said. ‘One thing that community rally wanted was indoor recreation, so this is one way we can achieve that goal.”

In Brownstone-filled Brooklyn some welcomed it, while others said they have concerns.

“They’re going to be coming with their cars, parking their cars, taking their bikes out and what about us the people who live here for years?” Brooklyn Heights resident Luis Rios said.

“It’s a little unnecessary. There’s already outdoor bike paths. There’s already places to exercise,” added Rosalie Kaplan of Boerum Hill.

Developers hope to have the entire project completed within four years, which by New York City standards is really the fast track.

The project will also include public restrooms for use by all park goers, and a boat house.

Do you think this is a good idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …