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By JOSH ROGERS | Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in a statement to Downtown Express, said with some help from the New York Mets, the Battery Park City Authority has agreed to open the neighborhood ballfields for the Downtown Little League to play this season.
The league’s season has been in jeopardy since Superstorm Sandy flooded the turf fields.
A Silver aide said the speaker called Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, merely to ask for advice to reopen the neighborhood fields more quickly, and was more than pleasantly surprised when Wilpon sent a staffer who worked on restoring the team’s storm-damaged minor league stadium in Coney Island.
Matthew Monahan, the authority’s spokesperson, said the authority was “very appreciative and encouraged by the advice and insights of the Mets’ top turf people.”
He said Dennis Mehiel, the authority’s chairperson, has directed the staff to remove the turf and inspect the drainage system before a contract is awarded to replace the fields.
The authority is expecting bids to repair the fields by Feb. 4 and had originally asked the contractor to do these first two steps after winning the contract. It’s not yet clear exactly how many days or weeks this will save, and the authority is not yet saying the fields will be open for the season.
Silver said he has been working “to ensure that the Little League fields are open in time for the upcoming season. The BPCA has assured me that it has expedited the process of replacing the fields, which will be open sooner than initially estimated.
“I am also extremely pleased that, as part of their ongoing effort to help New Yorkers recover from Hurricane Sandy, Jeff Wilpon and the ownership of the New York Mets have graciously offered to provide valuable technical advice to help move this process forward as quickly as possible. I want to thank the Wilpon and New York Metsfamily for their commitment to the children of Lower Manhattan. I will continue working with them and with the BPCA to get these fields open for the new season.”
No one’s giving the Mets much chance for a ticker-tape parade in Lower Manhattan this year but the Downtown Little League may want to give them one anyway.