Jan. 26, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
Council Member Costa Constantinides has called on the Parks Department to transform the center of the Astoria Park running track into a regulation-size soccer field.
Constantinides announced the proposal at his State of the District speech Monday night, though he has been on the lookout for a potential soccer field for months, along with State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas. The idea responds to what he called a “clamoring” for a field from “all over Astoria.”
The proposed soccer field would be FIFA regulation size, 100 yards by 50 yards. It would occupy the center of the Astoria Park track, which is located on the southern end of the park.
Constantinides said he has discussed the proposal with the Parks Department, and estimates that it would cost about $3 million for turf, drainage and leveling the field. He is looking for funding for this project from the City’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
According to the Councilman, park goers are already using this space for soccer and other sports, which kicks up dust and can get in the way of runners on the track. He believes that formalizing this space as a soccer field could improve it for both uses, by providing a clean and level field and mechanisms to catch stray balls.
He also noted that a Parks-sanctioned field would create designated game times for players and teams, as opposed to a free-for-all.
“Doing this provides more protection for those that want to enjoy the track for the track purposes, and provides a space with a real opportunity to play the world’s game in the world’s borough,” he told the Astoria Post.
Aside from providing a dedicated soccer space for Astorians, Constantinides said he also hopes the field – with its waterfront view and backdrop of the Triborough/RFK Bridge – could bring high profile tournaments to the neighborhood and “highlight the really great things happening in Astoria.”
When asked whether he is concerned about crowds or noise pollution as a result of a new field, he said that he has been seeking community feedback on the proposal, which will continue before anything is built.
If realized, the project would have to go through the Parks Department’s budgeting, design and procurement process, Constantinides said.
“This is something that’s going to take time,” he added. “It’s a big idea, but we should be talking about big ideas.”
The Parks Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the proposal.