The tattered turf field at Bushwick Inlet Park has finally been replaced, according to the community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, and the brand-new pitch opened to the public last week.
“Hooray for all the turf activists and NYC Parks for getting this field renovation to happen!” said Katherine Thompson, co-chair of the grouo. “FBIP is thrilled that the soccer community and other activity enthusiasts will be able to get back out on the field and enjoy this new state of the art turf.”
The old ‘downright dangerous’ turf field
The Kent Avenue pitch first opened in 2010, one of the first pieces of Bushwick Inlet Park to open after the city promised to create the 27-acre waterfront park as part of the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg Rezoning. After a decade of heavy use by local sports leagues, the turf had become “downright dangerous,” FBIP co-chair Steve Chesler told Brooklyn Paper in October 2020, when the organization first started pestering the city’s parks department to replace the rubbery field.
At that time, the Parks Department said the field was too damaged for the usual in-house fixes; and they’d have to wait for capital funds from the mayor’s office.
The city’s Parks Department announced in early 2021 that they had secured just over $1 million in capital funding for a full replacement of the turf, with work expected to begin that spring, after the mayor’s office gave them the go-ahead. At that time, the work was expected to take six to nine months, and locals lamented the fact that they wouldn’t be able to use the field during the busy spring and summer months.
But the months came and went with no work at the field. According to the department’s Capital Projects Tracker, procurement was not started until last fall, and a contractor was not finalized until April 2022. Construction began the following month and wrapped up in time for the pitch to welcome players back on July 26, days before the projected completion date of August 2022.
“We are excited for our families and the community to finally have a new, safe soccer field to play on — incidentally, with the best view in the world,” said Christina Roushakes, regional commissioner of the Greenpoint Williamsburg Youth Soccer League, in a statement. “We are so appreciative of [FBIP,] NYC Parks, and our local leaders for pushing to make sure this critical work was completed. We can’t wait to get back on the pitch for our fall season.”
The final cost of the new turf came in at $983,000, all from the mayor’s office, according to the project tracker.
“At last, Bushwick Inlet Park’s soccer field has officially reopened with brand new turf,” said local assemblymember Emily Gallagher, in a release. “My gratitude to City Parks, Councilmember [Lincoln] Restler, Brooklyn Community Board 1 and the advocacy of our fabulous local soccer clubs and community organizations, especially Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. Well-maintained and accessible public open space for us to play, compete and recreate is essential.”
What’s to come at Bushwick Inlet Park
Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park asked that locals avoid wearing cleats, moving around equipment, or bringing dogs onto the new field in an effort to keep it looking spic and span.
Seventeen years after the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning was finalized, just about seven acres of Bushwick Inlet Park’s eventual 27-acre span are open — five acres in the area that includes the soccer pitch, and a small new section that quietly opened to the public in April.
Local pols, activists and neighbors are hopeful for the future of the park, especially after then-mayor Bill de Blasio allocated $75 million to the completion of the waterfront span in the waning days of his mayorship. Eventually, that money will be used to demolish the burnt-out CitiStorage building just north of the soccer pitch, clean up some of the formerly-industrial portions of the future parkland, and design and build the green space itself.
The Parks Department did not respond to a request for comment.