Battered BPC Fields: When Will They Be Fixed And Ready for Play?

Flood waters from Hurricane Sandy flow from West Street onto the Battery Park City ball fields. Photo by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Between the tai chi regulars on one end of the field and crowds of spectators hovering over Chinese game tables on the other, Down­town Soccer Leaguers went on kicking last month, if not on their hurricane-torn Battery Park City ball field.

With three weeks to go, Hurricane Sandy brought an abrupt end to the soccer season, but not to soccer as Columbus Park in Chinatown became the site of pickup  games organized by age—on half-size fields—among the younger players. Older kids played in East River Park.

Quick post-storm scrambling by league leaders helped the organization land permits for the two fields. Weather permitting, the mixed-team scrimmages will continue beyond the usual close of the season to Dec. 11, said Bill Bialosky, president of the Downtown Soccer League.

“This is not a way of stretching what we do,” Bialosky said. “It’s making up for what we lost.”

In the meantime, parents are wondering when the bright-red “Ball Fields Are Closed, Please Keep Out” signs at the Battery Park City fields will come down. A resolution passed Nov. 27 by Community Board 1 calls for a “clear timeline for repair and opening” of the fields, reconstructed little more than a year ago.

As storm-whipped water flowed ri­ver-like down West Street, it flooded  the field The foam layer un­derneath the artificial turf field floated up, bursting some seams of the fabric field.

“It can be repaired, it’s not like a crazy, catastrophic kind of thing,” said David Nar­done, from the engineering firm, Stantec, that designed the fields.

In a phone interview, Nardone, who inspected the damaged fields, said that in another month “we’ll know all the factors and then try to plan on repairing.”

Tests for contamination still need to be conducted, he said, and the company is waiting for word from a vendor on what replacement materials are in stock.

While damaged portions of the field, especially around the home plate areas, will need to be replaced, he said, much of the field is salvageable.

The fields will “definitely” be open by the start of the baseball season, Nardone said, adding that he expects the repairs to be made in the spring.

“There should be a window at the end of March where we could get in there and do what we need to do,” Nardone said.

Stantec is awaiting a contractor’s re­pair estimate, but it is unclear how the costs will be paid or what, if any, insurance issues will stand in the way.

The Battery Park City Authority’s statement to the Trib on the status of the ball fields made no mention of the expense in­volved in repairing the $6-million year-round fields. The Authority said on­ly that there would be “thorough and complete assessments” of the damage, not only to the fields but also the Authority’s yet-to-open community center and Pier A at Battery Park.

“This is absolutely front burner as far as getting through the assessments,” the statement said.

Although parents expressed disappointment about the truncated season, some also said there were unexpected benefits to the informal final days of play. They said the lack of pressure to win was a welcome change and they liked that different kids were playing with those they didn’t know. “I think it will help foster a sense of community,” said Bialosky.