DITMARS — The Parks Department announced Wednesday that it will be building a synthetic turf soccer field in the middle of Astoria Park's running track, which will also be getting a facelift, as part of $30 million project to improve the green space.
Upgrades to the track area is the first phase of the city's Anchor Parks program, which is doling out $150 million for improvements at five underserved parks across the city, including $30 million for Astoria Park.
Part of the funding will go toward reconstructing the running track itself and building a synthetic turf soccer field on the grass area in the track's center — an idea first pitched last year by City Councilman Costa Constantinides.
Other improvements include replacing bleachers around the track, upgrading adult fitness equipment and installing new drinking fountains, bottle fillers and "misting stations" to cool park-goers down in hot weather.
The project will also construct several "rain gardens" — eco-friendly planted areas that are designed to absorb rainwater — and create new walking paths in part of the park south of the Triborough Bridge, according to the Parks Department.
The Parks Department has not yet determined the budget for the track renovations, but expects to present that information and final designs to Community Board 1 in March.
The agency will also reveal how it plans to spend the rest of the Anchor Park funding on other parts of the park at that March meeting, according to Vincent Cirrito, who works for the Parks Department's capital construction team.
"We're still looking at potential projects to consider moving forward," he said.
The Parks Department is choosing what projects to fund based on community feedback received online and during a public workshop last fall.
More than 270 people submitted their ideas for the park, officials said. Other suggestions included upgrades for Charybdis Playground, renovating the park entrance on 19th Street and re-planting the park's two big lawns.
The plan to add a soccer field in the center of the track drew mixed reactions from residents who attended the meeting.
Stephanie Blanco, 30, who lives a few blocks from the park, said she sees people playing soccer in the space already, so making it a designated soccer area made sense.
"They're going in the right direction," she said.
But Donnie Dionne, who grew up in the neighborhood, was worried the soccer games could get in the way of joggers.
"It may interfere with the running track," he said. "Astoria is loaded with runners — that track is used incredibly well."
Tim Barth, who showed up at Thursday's meeting to push for upgrades for the skate park, was also mixed on the soccer idea.
"I don't know if the track is really the best spot for that, but I definitely think people would use it," he said.