By Ivan Pereira
A new state-of-the-art field at Baisley Pond Park not only gives the borough’s growing cricket fandom a great place to play ball during the warm weather, but also helps the southeast Queens streets from becoming an annoying wetland during rainstorms.
City Parks Department officials and the borough president joined cricket players at the park Monday morning to officially unveil the renovated field. Borough President Helen Marshall allocated $650,000 to redo the grassland at Rockaway and Sutphin boulevards to include an official league-size cricket field.
“Cricket is the fastest growing sport in New York City,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. “And as a result, we have a lot of demand for it.”
The Indo-Caribbean community in southeast Queens has been using Baisley Pond Park for its official cricket matches for years and the number of players has risen. There are 26 public schools that have varsity cricket teams which include 500 student athletes, according to Basset Thompson, the cricket commissioner for the Public Schools Athletic League.
The field has newly planted grass for the infield and outfield, a state-of-the-art pitch and new wooden wickets. Players who took to the field enjoyed it and Benepe said he was pleased with the overall look of the greenspace.
“You can spend $650,000 … and not have anything to show for it, but I was blown away by this carpet of emerald,” he said.
The field is so good that the PSAL will hold its championships at Baisley Pond Park in June, Thompson said.
And the field was not the only new amenity to come to the park. A green drainage system was installed just outside the field to help deal with the constant flooding problems in the area.
Due to a high underground water table beneath southeast Queens, the streets flood easily anytime it rains. The bioswales that are located on the Baisley Boulevard side of the park use trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water.
“You’re watering the plants that need to be watered and taking the rain off the playing fields,” Benepe said.
Marshall said the new trees, pedestrian walkways and cleaner look would attract more Queens residents to Baisley Pond Park.
“People who are not cricket players will enjoy the park,” she said. “We’ve done very fantastic work with this park.”
This may not be the end for cricket expansion in southeast Queens. City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), whose predecessor Tom White helped fund the Baisley field, said he would like to bring a cricket stadium to the neighborhood.
“The commissioner, the borough president and my predecessor did a good job funding this project,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.