$63M construction begins on toxic Red Hook ballfields
NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Margaret Nelson announced on Wednesday the beginning of construction on the Red Hook Recreation Area track 1, soccer fields 3-5, and ballfields 1-4. This third phase of the wider remediation and reconstruction of the site represents a $62.8 million investment and advances the agency’s mission to make sure all parks are safe and healthy environments. The project is funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
In 2012, the agency in conjunction with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) tested the soil on the fields in the Red Hook Recreation Area and determined there was historic contamination linked to the area’s industrial past. Some of the contaminants were found to be close to the surface of the soil and, as a result, several fields will remain closed until their reconstruction is complete. Since then, Parks has worked closely with DOHMH and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address historical soil contamination, perform remediation, and perform air monitoring and reporting in the area.
“The health and safety of our parkgoers remains our top priority and it is evidenced by the extensive work we have done in the Red Hook Recreation Area in recent years,” Nelson said. “We are excited to begin construction on this track along with the soccer and ball fields. It marks the next stage of this area’s recovery as we work to right a historic wrong. The soil contamination at this site linked to this area’s industrial past presented a serious safety issue. We are grateful for our partners at the EPA, DOHMH, and for the funding from the Mayor de Blasio and City Council to help make this possible. We look forward to safely welcoming back the community to enjoy these fields for generations to come.”
The remediation of the fields and the track in the Red Hook Recreation Area totals more than $109 million. The work to revamp this site is being performed in phases. The reconstruction of the track and field, these three soccer fields, and four ballfields are part of phase 3 of the project. This phase has entered active construction and completion is anticipated in early 2023. Details for the other two phases are as follows:
Phase 1: Red Hook Area Ballfields 5-8
This project will convert four ballfields from natural turf to synthetic turf and remediate contaminated soils at Red Hook Recreation Area. The work is funded by Mayor de Blasio in the amount of $14.9 million and is expected to be complete in fall 2021.
Phase 2: Red Hook Ballfield 9 and Soccer Field 2
This project will convert a ballfield and soccer field from natural turf to synthetic turf and remediate contaminated soils at Red Hook Recreation Area. The project totals $20.2 million and was funded by Mayor de Blasio. It is currently in construction and anticipated to be complete in spring 2022.–>
As part of the remediation efforts at this park, the agency has actively engaged the community. Over the past six years, Parks has hosted quarterly community update meetings to provide new information and go over the plans to remediate and reconstruct.
For sports permit holders, the agency has been working with leagues and organizations to accommodate them at other parks.
The City acquired the first piece of land for what is now Red Hook Park on October 10, 1913, originally to provide terminal facilities for the marginal freight railroad. The property was not assigned to Parks until June 27, 1934. The other parcels came under Parks’ jurisdiction between 1935 and 1947. Gilmore D. Clarke (1892-1982), one of America’s most prominent landscape designers at the time, laid out the original development plan for the Recreational Center during the tenure of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981).
The park also contains a paved path, benches, a flagpole with a yardarm, a drinking fountain, handball courts, baseball fields, a soccer and football field, picnic tables, the adjacent Sol Goldman Pool, and new trees and plantings.
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