What the muck? McCarren ball fields a muddy mess thanks to city’s negligence, athletes say

A little rain does hurt somebody: Kickballers are fed up with the poor quality of their field that they say the city has failed to maintain.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

They’re fields of nightmares!

Local athletes blasted the city for letting McCarren Park’s three grass ball fields deteriorate into waterlogged mud pits that they claimed residents are forced to maintain because officials are moving too slow on a plan to reseed the diamonds.

“Why am I looking at a pond at second base?” said Kevin Dailey, whose Brooklyn Kickball league plays at the meadow’s Gilroy Field every spring and summer. “The onus is on us to fix the field, the Parks Department refuses to help.”

The hipster kickballer and his league’s nearly 400 members aren’t the only ones miffed about the muck — a Greenpointer who has led a neighborhood softball league in the park for the last decade accused officials of neglecting the diamonds for as long as he’s played on them, claiming he can’t remember a time when the three fields inside the Lorimer Street green space bounded by Manhattan and Nassau avenues and Bayard and Berry streets weren’t regularly pockmarked by massive craters filled with dirt and stagnant water that smells as bad as it looks.

“The softball fields have always been the black sheep, drainage has been an issue for 10 years,” said Ben Roth. “They’re simply unusable. When you walk past the puddles you notice the odor — fresh rain is not supposed to smell like that.”

Last October, Mayor DeBlasio promised to funnel $6 million towards repairing the park, specifically its decrepit diamonds, at a neighborhood town hall.

But because of red tape, the cash only recently arrived at the Parks Department, which last week held a public meeting to kick off its nearly year-long project to fix the fields’ drainage system, plant fresh grass, and make other upgrades, according to spokeswoman Mae Ferguson, who said the job’s next steps are a nine-month procurement phase followed by construction.

Roth applauded the city for finally dedicating funds to restore the facilities, but said officials shouldn’t wait for the multi-million-dollar project to break ground to patch up the worst parts of the play spaces.

“I’m happy that we got some recognition from the mayor,” he said. “They are spending in the right spot, but they should look into some maintenance for existing problems, because right now it’s just unsanitary.”

Elsewhere in the park, officials are laying new rubber on its quarter-mile track and new artificial-turf on its enclosed soccer pitch as part of a $4-million revamp scheduled to wrap next March, which also includes installing new bleachers, planters, and adult fitness equipment around the runners’ oval.

And Parks Department bigwigs are still in the process of selecting a food vendor to set up shop inside the meadow’s field house, after beginning the search for one earlier this year, Ferguson said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Field or swamp: A large chunk of missing grass at Gilroy Field in McCarren Park.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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