By Alex Ginsberg
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined public officials, community leaders and local youth soccer and football teams last week to cut the ribbon on newly completed athletic facilities at Brennan Field in Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.
Over a five-month period and in a $1.4 million effort, the Parks Department installed a new drainage system, replaced the aging dirt and grass with synthetic turf, created a long-jump area and put in painted lines, new goal posts and fences.
“This is just one of dozens of field makeovers the mayor and City Council have funded in the past year all over the city,” Benepe said in a statement Aug. 20. “We've been busy transforming windy dust bowls into green, lush, state-of-the-art fields for young athletes to play on year-round.”
The new field lies in the center of a new rubber track completed last year. The use of synthetic materials, once considered unsightly and unsafe, has increased in recent years in playgrounds, parks and athletic fields, thanks to technological advances that make the material easy to maintain and yielding enough for tackle football.
The nonprofit organization Take the Field has funded the resurfacing of athletic facilities at several Queens schools, most recently Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village in May.
Following the ribbon-cutting at Juniper Valley Park, Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) tested out the new material, tossing the football to a wide receiver from Christ the King High School.
Gallagher said he helped to make sure the funding for the improvements stayed in place but credited his predecessor, Thomas Ognibene (R-Middle Village), who attended the ceremony, with securing the appropriation. He also stressed the need to resurface more fields with synthetic material.
“We've got to get away from grass infields for multi-use sports, because grass gets destroyed.” Gallagher said. “[Synthetic turf] allows all sports to play on it and it will withstand the test of time.”
Also present at the event were Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano and Queens Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy.
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.