Is this Heaven? No, it’s the Bronx.
Woodlawn residents have long complained about Van Cortlandt Park’s Indian Field, lamenting that it’s frequently flooded and poorly maintained.
Now the site, which includes three baseball diamonds and a soccer pitch, will get a new field and another field, which has been closed all year, will be resurfaced under a million project announced Wednesday.
“The sign that I have behind me, that says ‘Do not enter,’ should never be anywhere near our Little League fields, especially in our public parks,” said state Sen. Jeff Klein, who teamed with City Councilman Andrew Cohen to secure the financing. “We need to make sure we give young people the resources they need to play first-rate Little League.”
Parkgoers say flooding, which sometimes lasts up to a week after it rains, has forced numerous cancelations of games played by members of the Wood-lean Boys and Girls Club.
“They lose their field and they have to travel to play, and they can’t use their own community field,” said Eileen Weninger, a Woodlawn mother of two ballplayers.
Parks Department officials suspect the flooding is mostly caused by a high layer of bedrock, common in the city’s third-largest park. They plan to run soil tests before they design the new field, to ascertain the source of the drainage problems.
“So we’ll figure that out and make sure we get a soil that percolates, and we’ll improve the drains and provide some detention tanks for the water,” said Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte, estimating that the project should be finished in 2016.
Woodlawn residents have complained about the Parks Department for years, saying they have been underserved when it came to regularly maintaining their fields.
“Hopefully, whatever they do put in has a regular maintenance schedule so it doesn’t look good for six months and then, after that it looks like crap again,” said Wood-lean Boys and Girls Club President Sean Martin.
Aponte defended his staff, saying it was too small to maintain all of the borough’s 120 ballfields.
Tommy O’Halloran, a Woodlawn resident and former Wood-lean Boys and Girls Club president who grew up playing on these fields, said the new field should be built to regulation dimensions and reserved for the kids over 12.
“That (current) field is unplayable,” said O’Halloran, 55. “The weeds, the rough terain . . . there is no mound and it’s sand instead of clay.”
A Parks Department spokesman said the agency would take the recommendations into account.