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Photo by NYC Parks Press Office
Photo by NYC Parks Press Office
A groundbreaking event took place at a Little Bay Park soccer field in Bayside on Tuesday.

Bayside’s soccer players will be moving and grooving on fresh ground by April 2017.

The long-awaited $1.6 million renovation of Bayside’s Little Bay Park soccer fields began on Tuesday.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski gathered with Councilman Paul Vallone and representatives from local soccer organizations to break ground.

“We are excited to begin work on the next round of improvements to Little Bay Park.  Upgrades to the soccer field will allow players to get back in the game sooner after a rainfall, and additional site improvements will ensure a more enjoyable experience for athletes and spectators alike,” Lewandowski said.  “I would like to thank Council member Vallone, who has been an ardent supporter of this important green space along Queens’ waterfront.”

The project aims to reconstruct the compacted playing fields in Little Bay Park and increase drainage by heightening the grade and slope of the soccer fields.

Furthermore, an accessible walking path is being constructed around the perimeter of the playing fields, along with the installation of a new drinking fountain for visitors to enjoy. Trees will also be planted in efforts to absorb stormwater transferred off of the fields into a bioswale.

According to Alfredo Centola, president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, the organization had been addressing numerous issues about the conditions of Little Bay Park’s soccer fields to the Parks Department for more than six years.

“The fields were always a mess. It would always flood when it rained. There was never any real grass — just dry dirt and rocks. It was always a dangerous situation for the kids,” he told QNS.

“Several years ago the fields were plagued with contaminated soil (placed there by the Parks Department in an attempt to raise the level of the field) which contained dirty diapers, used syringes, as well as other contaminants. Last year, we had to deal with large rocks and pockets of holes all over the fields,” Centola voiced his concerns to the Parks Department in an open letter published by Queens Crap blog in March 2014.

Centola commended Vallone for supplying additional funding for the soccer field upgrade, alongside the Parks Department, when he was first elected into office two years ago.

This renovation is the latest in several recent improvements to Little Bay Park.  In May 2015, NYC Parks opened an extended parking lot that features green infrastructure elements, which assist in stormwater management. In February 2016, a brand-new heated comfort station was opened for public use as well.

“The kids in Northeast Queens have some beautiful, brand-new soccer fields to look forward to,” Vallone said. “The upgrades coming to the fields at Little Bay Park will be a welcome addition to the community and will provide a great playing experience for everyone for years to come.”

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