Damaged Fields Likely Won't Be Ready for Little Leaguers

It now appears that the damaged Battery Park City ball fields will be gated longer than the Downtown Little League had hoped. Photo by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Hurricane flooding of the Battery Park City ball fields already brought an early end to the Downtown Soccer League season. Now, it appears, the Downtown Little League season will be affected as well.

A letter to the Trib from the lead member of the ball fields’ design team who inspected the fields has raised questions about the upcoming season.

“After further assessment of the fields I do not believe the fields will be ready for the start of the Little League season as the repairs are not minor and may be more than simply repairing the turf,” wrote David Nardone, a principal with the firm of Stantec Consulting Services, designers of the $6 million artificial turf fields that are barely a year old.

In an interview with the Trib last month and in the subsequent article in which he was quoted, Nardone said he believed the fields would be ready in time for the start of the Little League season. In his emailed letter of Dec. 5, he said he sought to correct the record. 

“The health and safety of the young people using these fields is of the utmost importance,” Nardone wrote. “Undoubtedly, we all would like to see the kids get back on the field in the spring but there are many factors that will influence that timeline, and I could not and would not commit to a schedule at this point.”

Registration for the upcoming Little League season began this month.

Speaking to Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 4, BPCA spokesman Matt Monahan said that there are worries about the contents of the water that soaked the fields. Ongoing assessments, he said, will determine the required scope of work to make the fields playable and how long that work will take.

"A source of our concern [is] for possible health issues from the foul water the surge carried, which contained salt from the river/harbor, back wash from overtaxed sewers and whatever else may have been in the water emerging from the tunnel," Monahan said Friday in an email.

Speaking to the Trib in November, Nardone said that Stantec was awaiting a contractor’s repair estimate. It remains unclear how the costs will be covered or what if any insurance issues may be unresolved.

Bill Martino, the president of the Downtown Little League, did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

In an email to the Trib, Mark Costello, a member of Community Board 1's Youth Committee and a former Downtown Little League president who helped plan the fields, said he appreciates the "big job" confronting the Authority. "The key is making this the number one priority and giving the community accurate and prompt information because every day in Battery Park City without the fields is tragic. We hope [Authority chairman] Dennis Mehiel moves quickly on this top priority."

The Authority has said that it is also continuing to assess damage to the community center, to be run by Asphalt Green and to Pier A. If Asphalt Green, now in contract negotiations with the Authority, does not open in time for summer camp, it may no longer be financially viable, Miehl said. Asphalt Green and Manhattan Youth's Downtown Day Camp plan to use the fields for their camps.