Monday, August 30, 2010

Scenes From Grand Re-Opening Of Roosevelt Island's New Artificial Turf Octagon Soccer Field - A Very Nice Evening

Image of Newly Re-Opened Roosevelt Island Octagon Soccer Field With Artificial Turf

The Grand Re-Opening Celebration of the Roosevelt Island Octagon Soccer Field with it's newly installed artificial turf surface occurred last Thursday evening and was a wonderful event. Kudos go out to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) and it's Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder for what was a well organized and fun event for all who participated.

The early evening event began with great anticipation as Roosevelt Islanders of all ages lined up just on the outskirt of the Octagon Field to await the opening ceremonies

which began with brief remarks by Ms. Wilder and RIOC's Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez.

RIOC President Leslie Torres then presented the RIOC engineering staff

headed by Director Tom Turcic

with a plaque of commendation for their work in getting the field open, followed by RIOC's Permits Program Coordinator Donna Masly urging all Roosevelt Island residents to make use of the field.

Zog Sports representatives, including it's CEO Rob Herzog, then gave out raffle tickets for 20 soccer balls that they had donated for the occasion.

Members of the New York Red Bulls Special Tricks Squad (not the team players) then came out on the field to perform soccer tricks to the delight of the crowd.

Finally, the moment arrived for the official ribbon cutting

by RIOC President Leslie Torres

There's More!

and the Roosevelt Island Octagon Soccer Field was officially open as the waiting kids rushed on the field

to start playing.

Later in the evening, Zog's Rob Herzog and RIOC's Ms. Torres handed out free soccer balls to the raffle winners.

Zog's Event & Philanthropy Coordinator Jodi Kanter later reported:
ZogSports was excited to help the residents of Roosevelt Island celebrate the grand re-opening of Octagon field last night. As part of our continued dedication to supporting, respecting and improving the communities in which we play, we were thrilled to donate 20 high-end soccer balls to the residents of the island. During the raffle (and afterwards on the field) we could see that we helped make these 20 kids so happy. We plan to continue to support youth sports on the island through our ongoing relationship with the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. We look forward to seeing everyone running around this fall.
Amalgamated Bank was also one of the event's sponsors

and let's not forget the Octagon Soccer Field Grand Re-Opening Celebration Cake either!

As darkness arrived, the lights came on and play continued into the evening.

It was a very nice evening and RIOC deserves credit for doing a good job.

RIOC Vice President Martinez indicated that the field will not be fenced in and will be open for spontaneous use and pick up games when not being used by organized leagues and others with permits but expressed the hope that the field will not be abused by those who use it.

Last Saturday morning, I walked on the field and was saddened to see it littered in some places with leftover water bottles and discarded ice cream cups.

More garbage cans near the field will be helpful but only if people care enough to put their garbage in the cans.

Roosevelt Island Youth Center Director Charlie DeFino has suggested the possibility of using the fields for Little League Baseball and softball as well.

I did hear from one parent who told me that her child fell on the field, scraping her knee and felt a burning sensation which hurt more than when she fell on natural grass.

City Limits magazine recently reported on the use of artificial turf at NYC parks:
... Artificial turf is part of PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's blueprint for an environmentally friendly future. Yet a City Limits investigation has found that overuse and chronic neglect has run turf ragged years ahead of schedule; price comparisons generally favor natural grass, even in the long term; and the health risks of turf—largely dismissed by the city after the destruction of one artificial field for high lead levels in late 2008—are much broader and deeper than previously reported.

After years of rejecting health concerns, the city recently agreed to switch materials and to set up new protocols for testing artificial turf, but the backroom negotiations that brought these concessions actually kept more threatening information from seeing the light of day
Paul, a reader of the City Limits article comments:
Synthetic turf is a necessary solution to urban athletes' tremendous need for playing fields. The alternative to synthetic turf, and my personal preference, living grass, requires irrigation; needs weekly rest periods during the growing season; cannot be played on while it is wet; and must be closed to play when it is seeded and during the winter to prevent root damage. All of this is necessary down time that NYC residents do not understand or respect. When the safety issues are resolved, the 12 month/seven day/all weather play opportunities synthetic turf affords will be well worth the expense.
A reader sends in this link to WNYC's Brian Lehrer interviewing the City Limits writer on artificial turf in NYC Parks.

Whatever the relative merits of artificial turf, the Grand Opening Celebration for the Re-Opening of Roosevelt Island's Octagon Soccer Field was a very nice evening.