Jan. 17, 2018 By Tara Law
Community Board 1 has signed off on a $2 million renovation of Whitey Ford Field, a beaten-up softball field on the Hallets Point Peninsula.
The park, which is located at 2nd Street and 26th Avenue, will undergo a major overhaul that will include new bleachers and fences, the re-sodding of the grass and the construction of a new baseball dugout.
The groundbreaking will take place in the fall of 2019, and the project is slated to be completed within a year, according to the Parks Dept.
The project comes at a time when the peninsula is undergoing significant change. The Durst organization is in the midst of building 2,400 units adjacent to the field and another development has been approved for 1,400 units that is planned nearby.
Last August, the NYC Ferry system also started a new route that incorporates the Hallets Point peninsula.
Funds for the project were allocated by Council member Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Friends of Whitey Ford Field, a volunteer group that was spun out of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, campaigned for the field to be repaired.
“The field is in bad shape. There are ruts, it’s dangerous to play. It hasn’t been kept up,” said Richard Khuzami, Chair of CB1’s Parks and Culture Committee and president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association.
Five baseball and softball leagues have permits to use the facilities, but in recent years several of the leagues have played elsewhere due to the field’s conditions, said Neil Herdan, co-chair of Friends of Whitey Ford Field.
The revamp will include the installation of new bleachers on both sides of the field; a new dugout; a new park entrance; new fencing; trees near the bleachers; picnic tables, an equipment storage box and bike racks; and new water fountains.
The field will also be regraded for proper drainage.
The Friends of Whitey Ford Field had hoped that the upgrade would include a comfort station and scoreboard but they were not incorporated into the plan.
“The important thing is we’ll have a safe, playable ball field where people are less likely to be injured,” said Herdan.
Herdan also said that he would like to see plaques installed commemorating Whitey Ford for whom the park is named.
Ford, 89, is an Astoria native and Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the Yankees from 1950 through 1967.