Chelsea Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, January 10, 2003


Sometimes, going around in circles actually means moving forward. This is certainly the case with Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson Park where a new synthetic circular track and field is going forward, thanks to $1.42 million in funds from Councilman Philip Reed and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. At the park on Tuesday, January 7, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Councilman Reed, Borough President representative Jennifer Hoppa, Community Board 11 Chair David E. Givens, and students from P.S. 102 (The Jacques Cartier School) and the Choir Academy of Harlem to break ground for the new facilities. By mid-summer, the park and recreation center will boast a beautiful artificial turf soccer field framed by a brilliant-blue synthetic rubber track.

"Because this new field and track are made of synthetic materials, they will last longer and withstand year-round play," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. "Everyone should play a sport, and this new track and field will make Thomas Jefferson Park a place for children from all over to come and play."

Artificial turf fields, once considered uncomfortable and unsightly, are now being used increasingly in parks thanks to the revolutionary technological advances made in the material. The first artificial turf field was a carpet-style fields in Chelsea Park and the second was in Riverside Park.

The field being constructed in Thomas Jefferson Park is an "in-fill"-type field and will be comprised of 2-3 inch realistic looking artificial grass that has sand and crumb rubber swept into it (looks like dirt), leaving 1 inch of grass showing. The result is a springy playing field that provides cushion and feels like real grass. This new field will require less maintenance than grass turf because it does not require cutting, watering, or reseeding. Cleaning is done with a vacuum, and damaged areas can be repaired by splicing and weaving in new turf.

The track and field was designed by Parks & Recreation’s Landscape Architects Shirley Kindler-Penzi and Andrew Penzi, who are husband and wife and who first met at Parks & Recreation. Together, they conceived of a functional way to "wed" the track and field: an inline channel drainage system that will collect water run-off and create an aesthetically-pleasing link between the two areas. Work also includes reconstruction of the iron picket fencing and the landscaped areas, and the installation of new gates.

At the event, fifth-graders from P.S. 102 (The Jacques Cartier School) and high school soccer and track athletes from the Choir Academy of Harlem learned about how a major project moves forward, how officials transform tax dollars into construction dollars and how the imaginative drawings of Parks Designers become actual facilities for all to use.

This project was funded with $1.12 million allocated by Councilman Philip Reed and $300,000 by Borough President C. Virginia Fields. The new track and field will be located at 113th Street and 1st Avenue.

Written by Eric Adolfsen


"You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going,

because you might not get there."

Yogi Berra

(b. May 12, 1925)

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