FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Parks Breaks Ground On New Fields At Harlem River Park
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Congressman Charles B. Rangel, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, students and community members to break ground on $4 million in new ballfield construction at Harlem River Park. Funding for the project has been allocated by the MTA and a $200,000 grant from the New York Jets and NFL Youth Football Fund.
"This project will transform the Harlem River Ballfields into a state-of-the-art facility for touch and tackle football, soccer, baseball, and softball," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "With the completion of this field, Parks will have completed five new fields and begun planning on two more fields in Harlem and Northern Manhattan, providing a new era for athletes young and old."
"The improvements at Harlem River Park will be a tangible sign of the National Football League's Youth Football Fund in action," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We thank Woody Johnson and the Jets for bringing this project to the attention of the Fund."
"The New York Jets are committed to ensuring that all New York City kids are afforded equal opportunities including the opportunity to play recreational football," said New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson. "That is why we are proud to make this investment which will help to create a new synthetic turf for this beautiful park, making this football field more accessible to the children of this great community."
The project will replace the existing fields with two synthetic turf baseball diamonds that have a football overlay. The new fields will be striped to allow for baseball, football, and soccer, making it flexible enough for a wide variety of park users. Additional work will include new fencing and gates, as well as the replacement of the old concrete bleachers with new steel bleacher seating. Landscaping will improve the overall appearance of the area, while new lighting and pavement will improve the park’s layout.
Parks & Recreation has installed 61 synthetic turf fields since 2002 and 21 synthetic turf fields are currently in design or construction. This figure is driven by a major initiative to convert previously underused asphalt sites into active recreation space, while upgrading out-of-date properties into community assets.
Parks began installing synthetic turf ballfields in 1997. Benefits of this material include improved safety, increased versatility and high durability to support more field use. The fields do not require weekly mowing, watering, fertilizing, seeding, or other time-intensive maintenance tasks. Additionally, they are useable year-round, and wear out much more slowly—these differences add up to savings of more than $25,000 per field each year.
Harlem River Park is made up of a series of smaller parks and ballfields that cluster around the Third Avenue Bridge on 130th Street and Lexington Avenue. The nine-acre park was acquired by New York City in 1867 and has served residents of Upper Manhattan since that time.