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BY JOSH ROGERS | Battery Park City’s turf ballfields remain closed indefinitely because of storm damage even though other Downtown fields closer to the Hudson River have reopened. Is anyone wondering why it’s taking so long?
‘Of course,’ said Mark Costello, former president of the Downtown Little League and one of the leaders in the successful fight to get turf fields in Battery Park City in order to increase playing time.
Costello said the B.P.C. fields are ‘fundamentally the same’ as the Pier 40 field near Houston St. That field, at least on the surface, looked to be more damaged after Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29, yet it was able to reopen Dec. 19.
Darren Gill, a vice president of FieldTurf, which repaired Pier 40 as well as several storm damaged fields in New Jersey, was hard-pressed to come up with a reason why it might take many months to reopen a turf field.
‘I can’t think of a scenario,’ he said in a telephone interview last week. ‘I just don’t see what they’re waiting for.’
FieldTurf, based in Montreal, is responsible for about 7,000 fields in North America.
The Battery Park City Authority’s contractor, Stantec Consulting Services, apparently agreed with him at one point. David Nardone, Stantec’s sports division leader, told the Tribeca Trib that the fields would ‘definitely’ be ready in April for Little League Opening Day, but he subsequently wrote a letter reversing his position.
‘I do not believe the fields will be ready for the start of the Little League season as the repairs are not minor and may be more than simply repairing the turf,’ Nardone wrote, according to the Trib.
He did not return calls for comment for this article and has not publicly explained what led him to a false conclusion.
Matthew Monahan, the authority’s spokesperson, said the turf fields were deluged with ‘foul water,’ including some from sewers, so the turf has to be completely replaced. He said the authority is still determining how long it will take to reopen.
The authority posted a message last week saying that ‘independent licensed contractors,’ in addition to Stantec, each concluded separately that the turf must be completely replaced to ‘assure the health and safety of the young athletes,’ but the B.P.C.A. has not disclosed who these contractors are and what tests they may have done to reach that conclusion.
Gill, whose firm worked on Pier 40, said turf field tests to ensure public safety are common, but he was still stumped as to why the turf needed to be completely replaced. He was aware that the authority used more environmentally-friendly coconut shells under the turf instead of tier-like materials, but was skeptical of that as a reason for the delay.
The authority was a pioneer in green building in New York City, if not the world, and its long opposition to turf fields was based on its environmental guidelines. Originally the fields were grass, but youth leagues and Community Board 1 grew increasingly frustrated by closures, after light rains and during the winter closures.
When the fields had to be rebuilt because of residential construction on the west end of the fields, the authority conceded to community wishes and switched to a turf surface, which opened last year. Last winter was the first that the playing fields stayed open.
Costello, who is sill involved with the Little League, said hundreds of children will be benched if the authority misses Opening Day. ‘There’s no Plan B,’ he said. ‘There’s no other field.’