The city Parks Department project at Raymond M. OConnor field between 32nd and 33rd avenues and 210th and...
By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
Construction has begun on a soccer field across the street from Bayside High School, but few in the community seem to have known it was coming.
The city Parks Department project at Raymond M. OConnor field between 32nd and 33rd avenues and 210th and Corporal Kennedy streets involves the reconstruction of the soccer field with synthetic turf, the basketball court, the asphalt paths around the oval and the sidewalk along Corporal Kennedy Street, according to a sign on the field.
The project was funded by former City Councilman Mike Abel for the local soccer groups that used the worn-out field.
The Parks Department could not be reached for comment on the project, which started a few weeks ago and was scheduled for completion in the fall.
The 5.4-acre park has been largely bulldozed, with big mounds of dirt replacing the center grass area. The playground and park school have been left intact.
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said he was not aware of the project and that the board had not requested it.
It was unclear whether the new sports facilities at OConnor Field would be used by Bayside High School teams. Renovations of the schools athletic fields on 32nd Avenue and the Clearview Expressway, undertaken by the non-profit organization Take the Field, are nearly complete.
No one at Bayside High School could be reached for comment, but Andrew Green, president of Bayside Highs parent-teacher association, said the school was not notified about the construction.
No advice or input was requested by the Parks Department before starting the project, Green said.
Kevin Meaney, who directs the travel program of the Bayside Soccer Club, said the construction of a new field was a positive thing for his young players, aged 9 to 18.
A lot of kids in the community play soccer, Meaney said. Im sure we will use it.
Meaney said he was aware of the construction but that many parents were not.
Kevin McGee, who lives across from OConnor Field, said the project unfairly cut off access to the park during the summer months.
There was no public comment that I heard about, said McGee, whose three children were regular visitors to the field. You now have 90 percent of the park fenced off for the whole summer. Now none of the kids can use it.
McGee also expressed concern over the installation of synthetic turf, saying the surface increased the risk of injury to children.
Meaney said older versions of artificial turf were said to be dangerous due to their lack of give, but he had heard newer versions had been made safer.
Meaney said the peak usage times for soccer leagues were in the spring and fall.
Teams still practice over the summer, but the demand for fields isnt as high, he said.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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