Redesign of Principe Park raises safety concerns

The proposed designs, which are not yet finalized, provides for two fully functioning Little League fields as well as one 110x65 yard soccer field.
NYC Parks Dept.
By Gabriel Rom

Community members are not yet fully sold on a proposed redesign of Maspeth’s Frank Principe Park, which some say would create safety risks.

The original design from the city Department of Parks and Recreation was presented during a session held Dec. 2 by the Parks Department and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale).

The proposed design provides for two fully functioning softball fields and a soccer field, but safety concerns arose at the meeting over the proximity of the two fields.

“If you allow the kids to hit toward the soccer field, you have problems,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “But if you face the fields towards Maurice Avenue, you will have the issue of balls going over and hitting vehicles.”

Community Board 5 Parks Committee Chairman Steve Fiedler presented an alternative plan which he said would have the softball fields face away from the soccer fields, eliminating safety risks. On his own time Fiedler met with a private architect and drew up his own proposal, which, according to Crowley’s spokeswoman is essentially Parks’ design flipped. Many of those at the meeting favored Fiedler’s design, according to a Crowley spokeswoman.

The Parks Department said it would take the comments from the planning session for further consideration in its final design plan.

“The park hasn’t seen any significant renovations in over 25 years,” Crowley said. “There’s a lot of drainage problems with many puddles, even in the warm weather. It wasn’t well thought out in the initial construction.”

According to a Meghan Lalor, spokeswoman for New York City Parks, the synthetic turf used for the fields provides a uniform surface for multiple activities and is easier and more cost-effective to maintain. The Parks plan would also have the existing asphalt track reconstructed and painted, along with new site amenities that include installation of drinking fountains and trash receptacles.

In December 2014 Crowley allotted $5.7 million to update the park’s four baseball fields and construct a running track. The current track is lined with asphalt and is not suitable for an ideal running experience, Crowley said. That money, and the redesign process in general, aim to address flooding issues at two of the baseball fields and replace the other two with a soccer field.

Much of the park has not seen any significant upgrades since its inception in the 1980s. The last major capital project for the park was done in 1996 which included a $3 million upgrade to the playground, tennis and basketball courts.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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