It seems difficult to please anyone regarding proposed renovations to a Maspeth park.
After community members were undecided on the Parks Department’s first set of renderings for the $5.7 million redesign of the ballfields at Maspeth’s Frank Principe Park, a second group of renderings was presented during Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Parks Committee meeting at Maspeth Town Hall on Jan. 12.
The main concern with the initial designs was the chance of overlapping play between the two little league/softball fields and the soccer field, potentially leading to safety issues for players of both sports. Members of the Parks Department used feedback from the previous meeting to create their three new designs.
“You have a small area and we’re trying to get a design that everybody will at least accept, which is going to be very difficult,” said Steve Fiedler, chair of the CB 5 Parks Committee. “That’s why [the Parks Department is] here giving us different schematics so we can try to work it out.”
The first new option is similar to the original concept shown by the Parks Department with the two ballfields facing the soccer field, only this design has a 16-foot high fence that would prevent an overlap in play between the two sports.
The second option presented flips the layout of the ballfields, preventing balls being hit toward the soccer field. However, this option would lead to two new backstops having to be built for the ballfields, leading to an increase in cost, taking the project over budget.
The third option puts the two ballfields facing each other with a 16-foot high fence separating the ballfields from the soccer field. This design would limit the amount of overlap between the ballfields, allow one backstop to be kept and would remain in budget.
Many baseball organizers in attendance voiced their displeasure with the designs, citing that there is no longer room for an adult-size baseball field at Principe Park, limiting the number of places where adults and high schools can play.
“It seems every time a field goes to soccer, it just becomes a soccer field,” said Frank Orlando, athletic director for softball and baseball at St. Adalbert’s. “My opinion is, take a field and just make it a soccer field, and then there will be no fighting either way.”
With the growing number of soccer players throughout the city, soccer fields are also at a premium.
“What we’re trying to do is design to have multiple games at the same time,” said James Mituzas from the Parks Department. “There is a large demand on this field so we don’t want to create it where you can only play one game at one time.”
Out of the three new design options, the community agreed that the third option would be the safest for all players involved. However, this will not be the final design.
The Parks Department will pitch their final ideas to the Parks Committee, which will then draft a resolution to be presented to the full community board, which will be voted on by CB 5 during a later meeting.