The long-popular Maple Lanes Bowling Alley in the Boro Park – Bensonhurst area is finally scheduled to go out of business, despite some opposition by local residents. At a recent meeting of Community Board 12, the board’s members essentially approved transforming the site into a 112-unit luxurious apartment complex that would include a shul and underground parking
“Shouldn’t we be more careful to protect the community?” asked neighbor Joe Santino, who expressed empathy for both the employees at Maple Lanes as well as the many people who have viewed the bowling alley as their main venue for relaxation and enjoyment. “What about the high schoolers who utilize Maple Lanes as a recreational center?”
Some other area residents opined that the new apartments would generate excessive traffic and parking problems on 60th Street near 16th Avenue. “They want to build a parking lot with 56 spots for 112 units,” complained Dominick Colasanto, who owns a business on 61st Street. “That’s about 25 percent of what they need. Where are all the rest of those cars going to go?”
John LaSpina, who currently owns the building that houses Maple Lanes, explained that he sold the land because its value was greater than that of the bowling alley. While the building is only zoned at present for manufacturing, LaSpina would like to have it changed to residential. Such a change would allow construction of the proposed apartment complex, as well as the shul that would cater to Orthodox members of the surrounding Boro Park community. The area right across the street from the bowling alley is legally a residential zone.
The majority of Community Board 12’s members stated their support for the planned housing project. “I’ve enjoyed Maple Lanes, but no one compelled the owner to sell,” commented Rabbi Yeruchim Silber. “Once they decided to sell, there’s no better choice than to build housing that is so sorely needed.”
Board member Jacob Haas was a little more tempered in his support for the project, asserting that some of the potential housing should be below market value to ensure that the neighborhood remains sustainable. “This community is choked when it comes to housing,” said Haas. “We need something affordable.”
Beyond the community board’s signing off on the transformation, the project’s developers still require approvals from Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz and the New York City Council before the zoning change can be implemented, and the bowling alley can be torn down. Maple Lanes has been far from quiet in its “waning” days – the 48-lane bowling alley hosts amateur leagues for all ages and an annual scholarship tournament. Additionally, large groups of everyday bowlers flock to the center for its special glow-in-the-dark bowling on Fridays and Saturdays. The 50-year-plus center has been offering bowling lessons for children and free games throughout the summer.
While there are other bowling alleys in Brooklyn, they are a good deal smaller than Maple Lanes. Shell Lanes on Bouck Court in Gravesend has sixteen fewer lanes, while the 34-lane Strike 10 Lanes on Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin removed approximately half of its bowling lanes in 2003 to utilize that space for a gym. Four years ago, another bowling palace – Mark Lanes on 88th Street in Bay Ridge – was torn down to make way for a parking lot.