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Repairs finally coming to Flushing soccer fields

September 19, 2012 5:38:36 AM PDT
For years, soccer players and coaches in Queens have had to deal with the poor conditions of the artificial turf fields in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Now, some renovation work is under way. But many are asking what took so long?

Back in 2002 and 2003, the city parks department replaced grass soccer fields with artificial turf, the idea being that turf was more durable and required less maintenance.

Much needed repairs are finally under way on soccer fields 2, 3 and 5, with the turf being replaced at a cost of a $2.8 million.

The turf is disintegrating so much that the recycled tires used for the rubber matting base is coming up like handfuls of sand.

On field 5, there gaping holes in the turf, which is torn and comes up like a loose piece of carpet.

But if you think this field goes unused because of the bad conditions, think again. Eyewitness News found kids practicing on the field.

Soccer organizations say the fields didn't get this bad overnight, but they've been in bad shape for years.

"The thing is that you have to maintain it," said Luis Montoya, of Big Apple Youth Soccer. "Since they made these fields, no one maintains them. They never did anything."

One player said he twisted his ankle on field 5, and that other players have also had injuries.

"We just don't want to get hurt, our kids," he said. "I have a kid. I don't want him to get hurt."

NYC Park Advocates obtained an internal parks department memo dated September 27, 2006, when the fields were only a few years old. In it, field 2 is described as having torn and ripped turf with fiber disintegrating. It was called unrepairable and needed to be replaced.

It says on field 5, the rubber infill has washed away, and there is carpet wrinkling. The memo goes on to recommend complete replacement within a year.

"This is just, again, negligence," NYC Park Advocates' Geoffrey Croft said. "People complained about this for years, and you have to take care of things once you build them."

While the parks department doesn't address why it took six years after the memo to replace the fields, they do say, "Parks makes regular repairs to all of the synthetic turf fields at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. With the extraordinary use these fields receive - 12 or more hours each day for 12 months per year - it is difficult to keep any field, synthetic or grass, in top condition. These new fields are harder-wearing than the earlier synthetic turf fields, and we have found that they hold up much better to the rigors of play."

The parks department also has plans to replace a fourth field, also in bad shape.

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