Volume 74, Number 47 | March 30 - April 05, 2005

Villager photos by Josh Argyle

Top, the new Pier 40 courtyard sports field, looking from the baseball diamond in the southwest corner toward the Morton Square development. Below, a soccer player practiced on the smaller Pier 40 rooftop field.

Pier 40 sports field preparation hits overtime; opening is set for mid-April

By Zachary Roy

The new outdoor, multi-sport artificial-turf field in the courtyard of Hudson River Park’s Pier 40, which was initially hoped to be open last fall, should be ready by the middle of April, a spokesperson for the park said.

In a telephone interview, Chris Martin, the Hudson River Park Trust’s spokesperson, said that the field will open once a few maintenance issues are resolved, including repairing the drainage system beneath the field and the fire-suppression system.

In January 2004, when the Trust officially announced its plan to build the field on the pier at the end of W. Houston St., it was reported that the field would open by September. As late as May of last year, Barry Lafer, president of the Greenwich Village Little League, said he expected the field to be ready by Labor Day.

By all appearances, the 400-ft.-by-400 ft. field is ready for action, but local sports teams will have to wait at least two more weeks before they can hold practices and games. “We should be able to open it sometime in mid-April, if not sooner, but I don’t want to promise anything we can’t deliver,” Martin said. “We’re just dealing with a drainage issue that’s common when installing any type of facility like this.”

According to Martin, no specific opening date was ever set in case such maintenance problems arose. “We knew there might be issues like this,” he said. “We want to open it as soon as possible, but we have to resolve these issues before anyone can play on it.”

Martin added that this winter’s high precipitation totals hindered construction efforts. “The fact that it snowed several times definitely delayed it. It was impossible to resolve these drainage issues while there was snow on the field. The weather really slowed it down.”

Built on a bed of sand and rubber, the field is composed of artificial FieldTurf grass, similar to the fields at J.J. Walker Park at Hudson and Houston Sts. and across town at East River Park. Twelve stadium light fixtures around the Pier 40 complex’s perimeter are already up and running and will allow for night play as well.

The field’s opening cannot come soon enough for officials and athletes of local sports teams and leagues in the Village where fields are scarce. The gigantic field will host local soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball and softball teams. In addition to local youth and adult leagues, Stuyvesant High School and the New York University Department of Athletics have also expressed interest in using the facility for sports teams.

While some teams had hoped to use the field this winter, no permits were granted because Trust officials anticipated possible delays with the construction. Instead, teams were permitted space on Pier 40’s older rooftop field with the hope that they could move their games to the courtyard field once it is ready.

The courtyard field will likely serve as an interim facility until the Trust is ready to proceed with the 14-acre pier’s permanent redevelopment, possibly in a few years. A process to seek a private developer for the pier ground to a halt in early 2004. Finalist proposals rejected by the Trust included an oceanarium, art galleries and a Home Depot superstore along with a park on the equivalent of 50 percent of the pier’s footprint. With the development process on hold, the Trust decided to build the interim field, costing $4.4 million, for the meantime.

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