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New Rules Could Separate Kids and Adults in West Thames Park

By Julie Shapiro | August 2, 2011 11:41am

BATTERY PARK CITY — Residents are drafting new rules for a Battery Park City field after soccer-playing adults frequently invaded it last summer and tore it up with their cleats.

Neighbors say "roving bands" of adult athletes often descended on the West Thames Park field, between West Street and Rector Place, for intense after-work games, preventing local children from playing with their friends.

"Older people basically kicked the kids off the lawn," said Justine Cuccia, a Battery Park City resident who takes her nine-year-old daughter to the park almost every day.

In response to the concerns, a Community Board 1 taskforce is proposing three new rules for the field: No cleats, no organized games that take up more than half of the field and no activities that are disrespectful or dangerous to the other users of the park.

"Anything that poses a risk to children…should be prohibited," said Marshal Coleman, a Battery Park City resident and a leader of Downtown Little League.

Coleman said that even young-adult pitching practice is too dangerous for the field, because some of the league's pitchers can throw at up to 70 miles per hour — which doesn't mix well with toddlers playing catch with their parents.

The CB1 taskforce also mulled time limits, age restrictions and rules about the type of ball or bat allowed on the field, but the group ultimately decided those rules would be too difficult to enforce.

The question of how to regulate the field is coming up now because the lawn was supposed to reopen Monday after being closed for months to get a new layer of sod.

However, the lawn did not open as scheduled because it still needed some touch-ups, a State Department of Transportation spokesman said. The lawn is now expected to open "on or around" Aug. 8, the spokesman said.

The repairs to the lawn were previously delayed while the agencies worked out a dispute over how the lawn would be maintained once it opened. The parties said last month that those issues would not stand in the way of the lawn reopening in August.

CB 1's Battery Park City Committee will discuss the proposed rules for West Thames Park in September.

The Battery Park City Authority and Hudson River Park Trust will have the final say on which regulations go into effect.