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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Artificial Turf for Roosevelt Island Ball Fields - Is That a Good Idea?

Image from fjny

Roosevelt Island has four playing fields designated for sporting activities. They are:
Octagon Soccer Field, located on the western side of the island, north of Manhattan Park (apartment complex), is complete with lights for evening play as well as adjoining comfort station with restrooms. Octagon Field, primarily geared for soccer, also accommodates lacrosse and flag football. (According to RIOC, Octagon Park will be closed until at least the Spring of 2008 due to improvements being made to the field)

Octagon Pony Baseball Field
, located south of the tennis courts and north of the soccer field. The Pony Field is primarily geared for baseball and softball.

Capobianco Field, situated on the eastern side of the island, north of Eastwood (apartment complex) was designed for softball and baseball. Octagon Pony Field,
another softball/baseball field is located south of the Octagon Tennis Courts.

Firefighters Field, a state-of-the-art softball/soccer field (near tram & subway) opened in spring 2003. While Firefighters Field is primarily geared for baseball & soccer, it also accommodates lacrosse and flag football.
RIOC is planning on solving the problem of poor field conditions at these fields by replacing the remaining natural grass with artificial turf. Yesterday's NY Sun provided a cautionary warning on the use of artificial turf in New York City Parks which already has 78 artificial turf fields installed. A bill has been introduced in the NYC Council that would ban the installation of artificial turf in City Parks for at least 6 months. According to the NY Sun:
The bill, sponsored by council members Eric Gioia of Queens, Letitia James of Brooklyn, and Maria Baez of the Bronx, would also ban the use of rubber pellets derived from old tires, known as "infill," in turf, and require that the city remove all existing rubber infill from any artificial turf used for recreational purposes within a year of its passage.

Environmental groups say the rubber infill may be a health hazard, containing chemicals that could possibly cause cancer and exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

According to RIOC President Steve Shane:

Yes, we are planning to install an artificial surface on the playing fields, being well aware of the discussion of a possible health hazard. We are following the issue closely. So far, nothing has been determined by the various experts to militate against use. As to details, they will be determined by the A/E firms engaged by RIOC, specifications and RFPs for the work.

We will be sure to keep the community advised and will not do anything which would emperil the health of the users of the fields, following best practices at all times. Especially tuned into NYC Parks & Recreation determinations.

There is the additional issue that once the nice weather arrives these fields will be reserved by corporate softball and soccer leagues such as Zog and not available for residents to play on unless paid for in advance with an hourly permit. What's next, paying for a permit to use the basketball and handball courts or for a seat at the Roosevelt Island Public Library.

Hourly Rate
Soccer Field
$50.00 (before dusk)
$65.00 (w/ lights)
$195.00 (before dusk)
$210.00 (w/ lights)
Pony Field
Capobianco Field $45.00
Firefighters Field



Firefighters Field
$65.00 $185.00

The muddy soccer field pictured above is not of Roosevelt Island but used for illustrative purposes.


Anonymous said...

Oh, come on now. It makes perfect sense to charge for the use of the sports fields. Resident or not. Simple economics.

Greg said...

I hope they go through with the plan of putting in artificial turf. The fields really are in terrible condition most of the time.

As for the permits... Residents often come on the field alone and start pick-up games with other players that are there. Nobody is going to waste their money on "community" permits.


Greg makes my point. When the fields are reserved for corporate leagues residents, or anyone else for that matter, cannot participate in spur of the moment pick up games or just have a catch or play frisbee.
Since there are so few open spaces on Roosevelt Island other than the 4 ball fields, they should not be reserved, or at least only for a limited amount of time, by corporate leagues but used on a first come first play basis.