With the new cash infusion, the waterfront park will be able to complete plans it originally set out for when first formed two years ago, according to news reports. Rechnitz’s donation will aid in the construction of a field house near Pier 5 on Furman St., a 115,000 square foot edifice featuring a velodrome—a 200 meter cycling track—and a 22,000-square-foot infield for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and gymnastics. The recreation center will also sport a boathouse, among other amenities, providing locals with access to an all-inclusive sporting experience, all year round.
While entrance to the park is currently free, following the opening of the field house—slated for 2016—a fee will be charged.
Much is known about the plans for the soon-to-be-built complex, but mystery shrouds Rechnitz, who, according to his spokeswoman, typically keeps his affairs private.
“[He’s a] very private person who keeps a low profile,” said Maureen Connolly, according to The New York Times.
The little known about the philanthropist revolves around his wealthy heritage and his general occupational interests. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rechnitz is the grandson of Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn, philanthropists who notably contributed to Jewish causes and to the development of other parks and museums in New York City. An avid biker who was allegedly scouring the market for years to find a suitable venue for a velodrome, Rechnitz is reportedly an animator by profession. With his donation, the philanthropist may now “animate” athletic activity in a park that remains largely unvisited during the winter months, due to the absence of any indoor facilities.
Rechnitz’s donation is the largest ever made to a city park. Sources close to the construction of the field house and the surrounding area lavished him with praise.
“I am thrilled at the magnitude and generosity of this gift, which could invigorate the park in the winter months and provide much needed active recreation space for youth all over the borough on a year round basis,” stated Brooklyn Bridge Park president Regina Myer, according to the New York Daily News.
Senator Daniel Squadron of Brooklyn Heights explained the latest news’s meaning to the Brooklyn Heights community.
“The community has… long fought to bring year-round active recreation with real community access to the park,” stated Squadron. “The news that the park has been offered an incredibly generous $40 million donation to achieve this goal is a welcome step forward.”
However, the new field house is expected to also attract a global audience to its extensive facilities. Cycling competitions, classes, and recreational races are anticipated, and, according to the Daily News, the field house, generally, is being promoted as the “new world hub” for the sport of bicycling.
The plans for the field house construction will be reviewed by neighborhood committees for comment and presented to various City boards for approval.