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Project of the Month: January 2002


HOM & GOLDMAN: Architects

JONNA CARMONA-GRAF: Consultant Project Manager

Funding: This project is funded jointly by Boro President Guy V. Molinari and the Mayor, with a total budget of $5,700,000.

Location: West of Brielle Avenue between Walcott and Rockland Avenues in Blood Root Valley. It is within Council District #50 and Community Board #2.

Estimated Construction Start: Spring, 2002, with a contract duration of 18 months.

Site Background:

Illustration of the Blood Root Valley Recreation Center design plan

The history of the Farm Colony site dates back to the late 1680's when it was part of a 5,100 acre land grant from the English Governor. The land became part of Castletown, named after the Dongan family residence in Ireland. Maps dating from the time of the Revolutionary War show the land as part of the Martino family farm. The Martino land was sold to the Richmond County Supervisors in 1829 and was used as the Richmond County Poor Farm until 1898 when the city was consolidated. The City renamed the Farm Colony as, "New York City Farm Colony." The farm was used as an institution of the indigent poor. Residents worked to provide food for themselves and the residents of other city institutions. It is one of the finest examples of the City's commitment to the improvement of health and social services for its dependent community.

The Farm Colony was comprised of a vast building complex. That complex included a morgue, a cholera hospital, housing for the insane, a schoolhouse, housing for the poor and a "pest house." In 1915, Farm Colony was merged with the Sea View Hospital directly across the street and became known as Sea View Farms. In 1924 jurisdiction of Farm Colony was transferred to the Home for Dependents agency who discontinued the requirement of work for board. During the 1930's - 1960's the colony population diminished from its maximum of 2,000 residents. The creation of the Social Security Agency gave new options to the elderly. In 1975, after failed attempts to reutilize the colony as a facility for the able-bodied, the remaining residents were moved to Sea View Hospital and the facility was closed. In 1982, the property was transferred to the Department of General Services who then transferred a 25-acre preservation area that includes the Morgue Building to the Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1985 the site was designated a city landmark as the New York City Farm Colony - Sea View Hospital Historic District.

The former Morgue facility was constructed in three stages, the original two story structure completed in 1914; a first addition (completed between 1927-1930) of a one story brick structure serving as a morgue, offices and a chapel; a second addition of a maintenance garage was completed in 1931. The building was badly damaged by a fire in 1987 that rendered the original building and first addition useless. The 1931 wing remains intact and is being utilized by EMS until the reconstruction begins. This project will convert the 12,000sf 1931 garage wing into a recreation center as well as provide out door recreation.


The reconstruction of the remaining structure will create a much needed recreation center. The new facility will have a fitness room, cardiovascular room, aerobics/dance hall, multipurpose room, computer lab, two classrooms, as well as all required support areas including public locker and shower rooms, bathrooms, first aid, and babysitting. We will provide office space for a center director, staff members and maintenance operations. MEP systems installed during the reconstruction phase shall be designed to accommodate the loads of the entire facility. There will also be a new storage building constructed at the overflow parking area.

The site design elements will help integrate the building and wooded surroundings. Pedestrian paths will be created from Brielle Avenue to the newly created overflow parking and then to the recreation building to create a pattern of circulation. The entrance landscape will be reconstructed and a new entrance gate added. Steel picket fencing, new curbs and stabilization of slopes will be included as necessary. The existing paved areas within the demolished buildings' footprint will be converted to green space and active play areas. The new layout will provide two basketball courts with bleachers, a skating area, two tennis courts, a boccie court, horseshoe pit and an open lawn courtyard. A portion of the 1926 wing adjacent to the open lawn will be salvaged. This will be reused along with a new trellis to create an out door "stage" area. The project will also provide electrical service for sports lighting to be installed in the future.