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Some Brooklynites Want Proposed LIU Field Expansion Sidelined

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TWC News: Some Brooklynites Want Proposed LIU Field Expansion Sidelined
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Brooklyn's Long Island University says it wants to build a state-of-the-art sports facility, but some neighbors are saying no way. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Long Island University is an NCAA Division I school but when it comes to soccer - at least the field on its Fort Greene campus - is too small for D1 games. Soccer players are among those leading the charge for an expansion.

"It's 10 yards shorter than every other normal soccer field. When we go to play other teams we're at a disadvantage. We train on a field that's not regulation size compared to other teams' fields," said Jessica Sexton, an LIU soccer player.

Sexton spoke at a public hearing this week where those for and against a planned redesign turned out. It would mean narrowing and closing streets to accommodate the new field and many residents say that would affect their quality of life.

"Every night I spend two hours looking for parking. And this is a difficult thing in this community and I think this is going to be a bad thing for the community," said one neighborhood resident.

"I walk up Willoughby Street every day going to the subway. And I don't know if you really understand the amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic that's on Willoughby Street," said another neighborhood resident.

Across the street from LIU is the Brooklyn Hospital Center and community members say they're concerned about emergency vehicles able to get through the area.

Critics also question using $7.5 million to pay for the project while withholding pay raises for LIU's security staff.

"That money can be used for something better to support the officers so they're able to feed their families and pay rent here in New York City," said one security staff advocate.

"This expansion must be accompanied by living wages and overtime compensation for LIU security officers," said State Assemblyman Walter Mosley.

LIU representatives did not speak about a pay increase but promised to be a good neighbor and said a new complex will enhance the area. The community board gave the project a thumbs up but opponents hope Borough President Marty Markowitz will say otherwise.

"It's not a community problem that a private university compete in NCAA sports," said one neighborhood resident.

The borough president is expected to issue his recommendation by the end of the month.

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