OCEAN BREEZE — A long-delayed track-and-field complex designed to offer schools extra competition space and coax Staten Islanders toward healthier living is set to open in October, officials said Monday.
The $93 million Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex on Father Capodanno Boulevard, which flooded during Hurricane Sandy, will feature a gym, the region's only state-of-the-art hydraulic-lift track and a shot put and long jump area.
City officials have said they hope the 135,000-square-foot center, part of Ocean Breeze park, will provide space for schools and local teams to hold track competitions while promoting health and exercise throughout Staten Island.
"We want to help the Staten Island community realize how to be fit," said Lauren Primerano, Parks Department administrator for Ocean Breeze Park. "Teach them better ways to be healthy."
During a tour at the under-construction center, Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora said that nearly every component was built with the serious athlete in mind, including a hydraulic track that can incline up to 4 1/2 feet.
"Athletes here will be amazed at the facility," Peña-Mora said. "Everything that has been done here has been done with the thought of the athlete."
The state-of-the-art track, with a surface built by Mondo in Italy, will be the only one of its kind in the tri-state area, with the others in Annapolis, Maryland and at Penn State University, according to Jennifer Sage, of Sage and Coombe, the project's architect.
The eight-lane track will convert into six lanes when raised, giving runners more traction and helping them maintain turn speed, Sage said.
"This is the sort of new thinking of how you should compete and run these races," Sage said. "It makes it a much more competitive sport."
The complex is about 80 percent complete and workers have begun to put plywood on the track surfaces, which will eventually be covered by an athletic surface.
Designers also said they aimed to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
The garage-door style windows open to allow in the ocean breeze and reduce air conditioning use and many lights turn on only when needed, Sage said. The facility is seeking green-building LEED certification and is on track to be awarded silver level.
Like the city's other recreational centers, Ocean Breeze will open to the public for a fee. Community use will be limited largely to after-school hours between November and March because of meets and competitions scheduled by area middle schools, high schools and colleges, Primerano said.
The project launched in 2007 but has met with several delays, including a four-month setback that followed Hurricane Sandy's destruction that ruined construction equipment when the storm-surge flooded underneath the building.
Because of Sandy, the generator and transformer were raised 20 feet above sea-level and each of the three electronic control rooms were raised to be 12 feet above sea-level, DDC workers said.
Peña-Morea called the storm "a blessing in disguise" because it prompted design changes that resulted in a building that's expected to be far more resilient.
"You have to look at the silver lining of these situations," he said. "It actually gave us quite a bit of information and knowledge to ensure that this facility is resilient to any other storm waters."