Volume 22, Number 27 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 13 - 19, 2009
Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert
The construction barrier at the far end of the Battery Park City ballfields has been moved in even more on some Saturdays for certain construction maneuvers.
B.P.C. field space gets smaller on some Saturdays
By Julie Shapiro
Construction of two residential towers next to the Battery Park City ballfields is forcing children off part of the field.
The ballfields already shrunk by 20 percent to accommodate Milstein Properties’ towers at Sites 23 and 24, leaving the Downtown Soccer League and other teams with less space. Then, several times this fall, an additional chunk of the available field space — about 25 percent — closed for the day to accommodate Milstein’s work.
“They should be working around us,” D.S.L. President Bill Bialosky said. “We shouldn’t be playing around them.”
When Milstein’s work forces part of the ballfields to close, as it did last Saturday, fewer children can play at the same time, meaning that many sit out on the sidelines. Ian Sorkin, who runs the soccer division for 6-year-olds, said the field space is already small and overcrowded. Rotating children into games and making sure everyone gets enough playing time can result in unhappy parents and children, Sorkin said.
There was some consideration about closing the fields again this weekend, but Milstein said late Wednesday that it would not be necessary.
Soccer league parents do not question the need for safety on the fields, especially after several accidents at the nearby Goldman Sachs construction, including a steel plate that landed in the middle of a baseball game last year (no one was injured). But parents said Milstein should restrict the heavy work that requires field closures, like hoist and scaffold jumping, to weekdays when the fields are not in use for most of the day.
Brian Fingeret, who manages the D.S.L.’s 7-year-old division, said it is not good policy to take away public space to benefit a private developer.
“It seems like greed is governing these decisions instead of the quality of life of the neighborhood,” Fingeret said.
Maria Rosenfeld, a development adviser for Milstein, said the company has no choice but to do the heavy work on weekends. The hoist and scaffold jumps require Warren St. to close, and the city Buildings Dept. does not allow street closures on weekdays, Rosenfeld said.
“These are not normal activities,” Rosenfeld said. “Our site safety plan sometimes requires Saturday work, but otherwise we try to refrain from any other work on Saturdays.”
Rosenfeld said the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy is the one that decides when to close parts of the field, not Milstein. Leticia Remauro, spokesperson for the B.P.C. Authority and Conservancy, said the partial closures should not be surprising.
“Everybody knew there would be times the ballfields would be reduced,” Remauro said. “It’s done with everyone’s input.”
Bialosky, though, said that since the B.P.C.A. is the property owner, the authority could choose to protect the league’s interests over Milstein’s.
“We don’t think the community should have to suffer for their added economic gain,” Bialosky said.
Bialosky is trying to get Milstein and the authority to keep the field fully open for the last two weekends of the soccer season. Roseland said Wednesday that there would be no work on Saturday that would require the field to close at all. But Bialosky said the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy told him on Tuesday that the fields would likely have to be partially closed.
Bialosky is also trying to get the Buildings Dept. to revoke Milstein’s Saturday work permit for the next two weeks. The D.O.B. did not comment.
Milstein plans to open its residential towers on N. End Ave. in 2011. The buildings will also have a community center run by Asphalt Green. At that time, the grass ballfields will be restored to their former size with artificial turf. But until then, the authority said the construction would continue to periodically curtail the use of the fields.