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$2.8M State-of-the-Art James “Buddy” Keaton Field Dedicated at St. John’s Recreation Center Park

Last weekend, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Member Al Vann, family members of Buddy Keaton, members of Brooklyn Community Board 8, kids from Brooklyn Recreation Centers and members of the community to cut the ribbon on the new $2.8-million Buddy Keaton Field at St. John’s Park and dedicated the field to beloved Brooklyn figure and Parks employee, James “Buddy” Keaton. Before the event, attendees joined Commissioner Benepe to form a tree watering “bucket brigade” and give their neighborhood trees some much-needed water.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the event was a celebration of Buddy Keaton and the parks he loved, of humanity and of nature. “By watering our trees in the heat, we help protect them and ourselves because they provide benefits including cleaning our air and keeping us cool by providing shade. By cutting the ribbon on the new $2.8-million turf field, funded by Mayor Bloomberg, we provide year-round active recreation for park-goers of all ages. By naming it after Buddy Keaton, we honor a beloved community figure who helped improve programming and education in Brooklyn throughout his 24 years of service at the Parks Department.”

Thanks to funding from Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC asphalt to turf initiative, this once cracked and rutted asphalt space is now a state-of-the-art, approximately 2-acre, synthetic multipurpose field. In addition to the field, the project also included new baseball backstops, portable pitcher’s mound, portable soccer goals, seating and fencing. The field was designed by consultant designer Abel, Bainnson and Butz. The resident engineer was Rohan Mendis and project manager was Shirley Kindler-Penzi. The contractor was William A. Gross Construction.

It is dedicated to Buddy Keaton, the former Director of Sports Programs for Brooklyn Recreation, who passed away in July 2010 after 24 years of service at Parks. Keaton had started his Parks career working at the adjacent St. John’s Recreation Center where he was widely known as a coach, mentor and community leader. After the ribbon cutting, attendees were treated to a song honoring Keaton sung by children from the Herbert Von King Cultural Center, and food prepared by children and volunteers from Von King’s culinary program.

Commissioner Benepe also joined Borough President Markowitz, Council Member Vann and Parks employees to show community members how to properly water their street trees by demonstrating watering techniques on trees along Prospect Place and teaching participants some great ways to keep their community green. Trees need 15-20 gallons of water per week, and even more during the hot summer months! For more information about tree watering, or how to get involved, visit
Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, Parks has spent more than $272 million on 347 park improvement projects in Brooklyn. Parks currently has 40 projects representing over $127 million in construction, and another 53 projects representing over $47 million in design/bidding.

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