$2 million for new playing field Downtown
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation hit a grand slam for the Downtown Little League last week, granting up to $2 million for a new baseball field on the Lower East Side.
“It’s great,” said Mark Costello, president of the Downtown Little League. “The league is doubling in size while the playable field space is shrinking.”
The award was among the largest of the community enhancement grants the L.M.D.C. announced Nov. 8, and was part of an emphasis on youth organizations.
The field will replace an asphalt diamond in Corlears Hook Park at Jackson St. and F.D.R. Dr. It will be the Downtown Little League’s home, but it will also host a range of sports for both children’s and adults’ leagues.
“We hope that everyone and their brother, and perhaps their sister, too, will be using this field,” Costello said.
The Lower East Side location will balance out the heavily used Pier 40 and Battery Park City fields, and will serve many communities.
“We’ve already outgrown the space we have,” Costello said. In 2007, the baseball league had 700 players and the Downtown Soccer League had 850. Costello can easily see the numbers ballooning to 1,500 as new real estate opens up.
“There isn’t enough room for kids here — forget about those who are coming,” he said.
The L.M.D.C. and the Parks Department will do much of the planning for the field, but Costello expects the community to have input.
“They don’t want to build an OK field,” Costello said of the L.M.D.C. “They want to build something great.”
When the Little League was preparing an application for the L.M.D.C. money, league vice president Ken Burns urged everyone to “just go for it” and ask for a new field, Costello said.
“This is an amazingly rare opportunity to build a sports field in a community as densely packed as ours,” he added.
When C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin named the L.M.D.C. grants she is most proud of, the new field topped the list.
“It will have a tremendous impact on generations to come,” she said.
By Julie Shapiro