With $50K in Donations, Pier 40 Ball Fields Reopen After Sandy

By Andrea Swalec on December 20, 2012 7:44am 

WEST VILLAGE — Youth relegated to indoor sports fields since Superstorm Sandy flooding closed Pier 40's massive outdoor space nearly two months ago got to sprint across rejuvenated turf for the first time Wednesday.

The outdoor field on the Pier 40 athletic complex in the West Village reopened after youth sports organizations that use the space donated more than $50,000 to complete needed repairs.

Pier Park & Playground Association president Tobi Bergman, whose group runs after-school and summer sports programs on the pier for about 1,000 children annually, said the flooding that left the field's durable FieldTurf bumpy and buckled was a blessing in disguise.

"The field is better now than it was," he said as he overlooked the huge soccer and baseball field Wednesday afternoon. "Some of the seams [on the field] were ripped open and now they're smoothed out."

P3, as Bergman's association is known, is one of several groups that approached the cash-strapped Hudson River Park Trust about how much they needed for the field's surface to be re-stretched.

"We came to the Trust and said 'What can we do?'" Bergman said. "It was the right thing to do."

Other donors included Greenwich Village Little League, Downtown Little League, Gotham Girls, Stuyvesant High School and Downtown United Soccer, a spokesman for the Hudson River Park Trust said.

Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $10 million in damage within Hudson River Park, Trust president Madelyn Wils said at a community meeting Nov. 29.

Before the storm, the park that runs along Manhattan's west side waterfront from Battery Park to West 59th Street faced a projected $80 million deficit over the next 10 years.

A major next step in storm recovery for Pier 40 is to get the electricity working again. Without exterior lights, the park currently closes at 4:30 p.m., before dusk.

Bergman said getting the lights back on would give Pier 40 athletes another boost.

"For a lot of people, if you come after school, it's barely worth the trip," he said.

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