By Ivan Pereira
Spring training for Major League Baseball is well underway on fields in the South, but athletes who swing a different bat in southeast Queens are anxious to set foot on a new space in a revamped Baisley Pond Park, community leaders said.
Later this spring, the city Parks Department, will open a fully renovated cricket area in the park as part of a $5 million renovation project for the green space. The cricket field, which will be located at the northern side of Rockaway Boulevard and western side of Baisley Boulevard, will be surrounded by a restored oval-shaped path with a new entrance to the park at the corner of the two boulevards.
The money for the restoration was provided by the late City Councilman Thomas White, who saw there was a growing popularity of the sport in the area, especially from the Caribbean immigrant population, according to White’s successor, Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Ozone Park)
“The sport of cricket has had a strong influence on the culture of many nations that are represented in my district,” Wills said in a statement. “Certainly, Council member Tom White understood the impact, expression and national identity that cricket brings.”
Queens has the largest number of cricket fields in the city and is home to eight out of the dozen Parks Department facilities, according to the agency. In 2009, the Parks Department constructed a state-of-the-art cricket field in Idlewild Park that included proper drainage, new pitches, a chain link fence and gates, new electric and water service, pavements, bleachers and benches.
Borough President Helen Marshall, who helped fund the $2.16 million construction of the field at 149th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard, said she planned to dedicate the field and promote it to the various cricket leagues in the borough during her State of the Borough speech in January.
The cricket fields are not the only new amenity coming to the all-new Baisley Pond Park. Two comfort stations located at Lakeview Boulevard and 122nd Avenue and 153rd Street and 125th Avenue will be completely renovated and include a new heating system.
Several pedestrian paths on the northern side of the park have been redone and have new entrances. The Parks Department has also taken new measures to combat the constant flooding problem in the area with construction of vegetated filters on the northeast side of the pond.
Yvonne Reddick, the district manager of Community Board 12, said she hopes that residents and athletes will come out and see the wonders of the park when the weather gets warm.
“We like our parks to look beautiful,” she said.
The exact date of the opening of the Baisley Pond fields has not been determined, according to the Parks Department.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.