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Forest Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, September 10, 2004

FOREST PARK GOES HI-TECH WITH NEW GENERATION OF BALLFIELD


From afar it can fool you. It’s just the right color green, and as you get closer and the texture comes into focus, you think you’re looking at a natural grass ballfield. Then you start to wonder, as you realize it’s about the most even and flat ballfield outside Shea Stadium. But it is only when you bend down and feel the surface that you realize we have finally trumped nature!

Synthetic turf ballfields are replacing asphalt play fields and traditional ballfields where appropriate throughout the City—most recently at Forest Park in Woodside, Queens. It was there, on Tuesday September 7, that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Member Dennis P. Gallagher, and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe cut the ribbon on a $1.9 million renovation of the ballfield at Victory Field in Forest Park. Joining them were members of the Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth Little League team, which plays at the ballfield.

As he began his remarks, Mayor Bloomberg pointed to the players’ sparkling uniforms to remind the audience that synthetic turf is much easier on the washing machine. The Mayor also noted that because they are more durable than natural grass fields, synthetic turf fields are open more. With improved drainage and no need to cut grass or re-seed, synthetic turf fields also require less maintenance and save the City money.

In addition to resurfacing the ballfield at Victory Field, Parks & Recreation replaced the aging concrete seating area with steel bleachers, giving spectators a more comfortable space to watch games. New dugouts, a backstop and a portable pitcher’s mound give it the look of a professional baseball field, and the new picket fencing and landscaping improve the area’s overall appearance. Shirley Kindler-Penzi was the Parks & Recreation Designer for the project, and Helen Belner was the Resident Engineer.

But it was not all about turf on Tuesday. Mayor Bloomberg also took time to recognize Queens Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy, who is retiring this month after 34 years at Parks & Recreation. The Mayor acknowledged Commissioner Murphy’s three-decade commitment to New York City’s parkland. "I’d like to thank Rich for his long devotion to our parks, and I wish him all the best in the future," said Mayor Bloomberg.

The first artificial turf field used by Parks & Recreation was a short carpet-style field in Manhattan's Chelsea Park in 1998. Thanks to technological advances in material and design, the new ballfield at Forest Park looks, feels and plays like natural grass. A layer of grass-like blades sits on a base of crushed rubber pebbles that makes for an extremely durable playing field. The result is an easy to maintain "real feel" playing surface. In fact, the 21st century turf even got the endorsement of the little league players who flanked the Mayor during the event.

Using state-of-the-art synthetic turf to convert asphalt ballfields was one of Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign promises when he ran for office in 2001. Expanding the initiative to include grass fields, Parks & Recreation has installed 40 new turf fields in the past three years. Presently, 17 artificial fields are under construction, and there are 20 projects in design. Other Queens parks to receive this new generation of artificial turf fields include Juniper Valley Park and Linden Park.

Written by Ashe Reardon

Quotation for the Day

"And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything."

William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

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