Two Riverside Park Ball Fields Now State-of-the-art Athletic Facilities
Saturday, April 1, 2006
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Riverside Park Fund President Jim Dowell, Central Park Conservancy President Doug Blonsky, and representatives and young athletes from the West Side Soccer League, and numerous Manhattan Council Members, and the All City High School Marching Band today to announce the completion of the $3.9 million renovations of two playing fields between the Henry Hudson Parkway and the Promenade from West 103rd to West 104th Streets and from West 107th to West 108th Streets in Riverside Park.
"The playing fields of Riverside Park, first opened in 1937, were the incubators of generations of baseball, football and soccer players, including me and my children," said Commissioner Benepe. "As sports for girls and youth leagues blossomed in the last two decades, these old fields were trampled into dust bowls. Now, thanks to a model public-private partnership, the Upper West Side finally has a superlative, all-weather sports complex to nurture the next generations of athletes."
The previous natural turf fields, which had eroded and become uneven after years of excessive use, were resurfaced with synthetic turf and the surrounding area regraded to improve drainage. A retaining wall was constructed at the base of the fields’ eastern-bound promenade wall and onsite storm water management structures were installed in both fields to alleviate drainage problems. New fencing, park security lighting, and sports facility accessories were also installed in both fields.
A little league baseball field, a soccer field and a multi-use area were constructed at 103rd Street while a high school soccer field was installed at 107th Street. The combined performance space for both playing fields occupy 3.95 acres of Riverside Park’s 323 total acreage.
The $3.9 million in funding for this project composed of allocations from Council Member Brewer, Council Member Reed, Borough President Fields, and Mayor Bloomberg, combined with almost $1.25 million in private monies via Riverside Park Fund.
The project’s successful completion is owed to the combined efforts of a several neighborhood organizations and community representatives. Riverside Park Fund and Parks & Recreation contracted with the Central Park Conservancy to design and supervise the construction of the fields, while both the West Side Little League and the West Side Soccer League were instrumental both in planning and generating funds for this much-need project.
The first sections of the Riverside Park opened in 1880. At that time New York Central Railroad tracks marked the western boundary of the park, until the 1930s when Parks Commissioner Robert Moses extended it west beyond the railway line. This expansion created new recreational areas between the promenade, the newly created Henry Hudson Parkway and the waterfront esplanade. Landscape architect Gilmore Clarke and architect Clinton Lloyd redesigned the Park in 1937, expanding upon recreation facilities while still maintaining the naturalistic aesthetic of Frederick Law Olmsted along the Park’s eastern boundary. The last reconstruction of the playing fields was completed in 1989.
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