Foes of artificial rubber grass were dealt a resounding blow on Tuesday, when the city’s Parks Commissioner declared Cadman Plaza Park — complete with a new Astroturf playing field and a gorgeous, $2.9-million facelift — officially open.
“I must admit, I got a little nervous when we started getting calls about this,” said the Parks Department’s Brooklyn Borough Commissioner, Julius Spiegel, referring to the uproar that ensued when the agency announced in 2005 that it would lay down artificial grass in Cadman Plaza Park instead of the real thing.
“But I kept the faith and made sure everyone else did too,” said Spiegel.
Natural-grass partisans contend that fake grass is inappropriate in a neighborhood already choked for natural space. In April, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum suggested that the city’s 70-odd Astroturf fields were some kind of toxic timebombs.
But at Tuesday morning’s opening, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe countered with a laundry list of reasons why artificial turf is indeed appropriate.
“It doesn’t need fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides,” said Benepe. “We don’t need machines to maintain it that use fossil fuels.”
He also played history teacher. “Before, this was a big area of dust. Some people called it a dustbowl. When it rained, it was a mudbowl.”
Now, it is a carpet of long, green fiber blades and rubber pellets made from recycled tires. It is soft to the touch, though in the mid-day sun, it’s hot (and not in the good way).
Still, the first reviews are in and they’re mostly positive.
“It’s much better than before, said Philip Hughes, who was playing Frisbee — barefoot. “Except, it gets really, really hot in the sun, and I burn my feet.”
The park reconstruction also included new trees, lawns, paths, benches, lighting fences and drinking fountains.