BY JON CRONIN
Local sports organizers filled Maspeth Town Hall last Wednesday night to see the preliminary plans for Frank Principe Park.
The big issue with the park is that it is approximately 4.1 acres and the best way for it to service the community would be for it to continue to host soccer games and two baseball diamonds that would support both little league and softball games.
The preliminary new design of the fields features a 110-by-65-yard soccer field to the west and two baseball fields to the east facing the soccer field. Each ball field will have a 200 foot distance from home base to the edge of the outfield and 60’ between bases.
The western entrance will be new and enhanced. They will remove eight dying trees and add 44 that will provide a shady sitting area to the west near proposed bleachers. There will be six water fountains with bottle filling stations and several misting stations.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) stated that these designs, “are not set in stone,” adding, “your input will finalize the design.” Steve Fielder, Parks Committee chairman for Community Board 5 did not like the plan at all. He was concerned about balls being hit into the soccer field and potentially into a simultaneous ball game. Fielder called the new design, “a recipe for disaster.”
Mike Locascio, athletic director at St. Stanislous Kostka Catholic High School, suggested they build 30’ nylon fence the between the fields and noted that they did the same at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.
Peter Crawford, NYC Parks architectural consultant at Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP Landscape Architects said “They could revisit that idea, but obviously there’s a price tag.”
Fielder brought with him another design that the audience seemed to like more. Fielder’s design, which he said advocates of the redesigned park had another architect create, switches the soccer field with the ball fields and has the outfields bordering Maurice Avenue.
Crawford said that design would be unsafe and lead to homeruns being hit into traffic. Proponents of that design believed it would not happen if a fence was erected on the border of Maurice Avenue. Crawford cautioned against it and ask them to consider that the distance in his design from home plate to the outfield would be 200 feet as opposed to 150 feet in their design and thus less dangerous for surrounding roads.
In an informal vote of hands raised in the room, most attendees like the design Fielder brought with him. Crowley noted that she would advocate for that design and assured everyone that no shovels would go in before ground before they let everyone know what the final design is.
In a statement, Crowley said, “It has been decades since Maspeth’s Frank Principe Park last saw any capital upgrades, and park goers are faced with flood-prone sports fields, an antiquated running track and more. City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley took action to remedy this problem and allocated $5.7 million in capital funding for field and track upgrades.”
She added, “These parts have not seen any significant upgrade since the park’s inception in the 1980s. The last major capital project for the park was done in 1996; a $3 million upgrade to the playground, tennis and basketball courts.”
There was an info gather session in May where park-goers suggested “a full-size soccer field, baseball fields, astro turf on the fields, an adequate drainage system, high fences, bleachers and more.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin