By Joe Anuta
The city Parks Department opened new volleyball fields on the eastern edge of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Tuesday.
The five concrete courts replaced a series of dirt patches that various leagues and clubs played on before, according to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
“Now you can play on a legitimate field and the landscaping around it has a chance of surviving,” she said.
The nets are near the 59th Avenue and College Point Boulevard entrance and will be available for both permit and open use, Parks said.
Leagues and teams should file for a permit and block out a time to take to the courts, but if no one has signed up, the courts will be open to anyone.
The new facilities fit into a broader plan for the park that was outlined in a 2008 report called the Strategic Framework Plan, according to the commissioner.
The plan is more an ideal vision of the park and calls for a number of radical changes not likely to be funded in the near future, including unearthing the Flushing River, which starts in Flushing Bay but runs underground through much of the park, and then connecting the river to two southern lakes to form a continuous waterway.
But improving connections between the greenspace and the surrounding neighborhoods of Flushing and Corona, Lewandowski said, is also part of the framework. The new project’s proximity to residents should help achieve that goal, according to the commissioner.
“We’ve used it as a guide for most of the capital projects in the park,” she said.
Another key provision in the framework is reducing the surface area of non-permable concrete and asphalt in the park.
Construction during the 1964 World’s Fair has left many redundant and unnecessary road and pathways, which contribute to runoff and flooding during heavy rains.
The volleyball fields themselves contribute to this, but Lewandowski said they are a net boon to the area, since they are surrounded by permeable walkways that allow rainwater to seep into the ground. But they also have enabled Parks to invest in more green infrastructure surrounding the fields that formerly were filled with hard-packed dirt.
After a brief news conference, Lewandowski took to the courts herself, along with a few other players and faced off against a team, including Flushing Meadows Administrator Janice Melnick, in a game of equavoley, a version of the game from Ecuador.
It was unclear which side prevailed.
The fields were built using capital money from Borough President Helen Marshall, who watched the game from the sidelines after harkening back to her days on the court.
“I played volleyball,” she said, deviating from her prepared remarks at the conference. “I was kind of a shorty, but I stayed close to the net.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.