COLUMBUS PARK VICTORY!
Old Columbus Park Ball Field
Newly Renovated Columbus Park Ball Field
Most of you will have visited the newly renovated Columbus Park ball field by now. And most would agree itís great! Something for everybody Ö grass (albeit artificial) for the young kids and lovers (of nature), volleyball and basketball courts for the teens, and recreational space for the elderly.
Columbus Park Ball Field - Public Debate
February 2004. Mayor Bloomberg announces that 1.1 million dollars donated by the estate of Joseph Temeczko will be used to renovate Columbus Park, NY Chinatown.
June 2004. NYC Parks calls a meeting at the Columbus Park ball field to discuss their plans to convert the ball field from its current asphalt to synthetic turf using the funds donated by Joseph Temeczko.
June 2004. Friends of Columbus Park (FoCP) members and other community leaders felt that synthetic turf would not serve the overall open space needs of NY Chinatown. Their reasons: 1) synthetic turfs are not for everyone, particularly those who require a hard surface to play their sports; 2) concern that the City would not be able to (or afford to) properly maintain the turf; 3) concern that corporate leagues would gobble up the prime time usage at the Columbus Park to play corporate baseball, making it hard for local community groups and kids to use the field; 4) concern that Columbus Park is the last open space left in NY Chinatown and that if it is covered with turf, Chinatown will not have any big open multi-purpose fields left.
June 2004. The Columbus Park Exercise Group (CPEG) consisting of park users and senior citizens from the community organized to protest NY Parks plan to convert the ball field to synthetic turf. FoCP and CPEG joined forces to begin the campaign against synthetic turf.
June 2004. Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) & FoCP held a Town Hall Meeting. In attendance were representatives from NYC Parks, LMDC, Chinese media and community organizations, including Friends of Columbus Park, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assoc., Columbus Park Exercise Group, Chinatown YMCA, Better Chinatown Society, NY Rockits AIA, NY Cruisers Athletic Assoc., Asian American Youth Center, Eastern Regional Dragon Boat Assoc., Chatham Towers Residents Group, NY Chinatown Lions Club, Organization of Chinese in America (NY Chapter), with additional letters from organizations (NY Wall St. Lions Club, NY Sabres, Chinatown Manpower Project, United East Athletic Assoc., Indo-China Sino-American Community Center, Chinese-American Planning Council) expressing their opinion on the ball field issue. The majority of attendees voted against the proposed synthetic turf in favor of a multi-purpose (asphalt with rubber topping) field.
July 2004. FoCP and CPEG began their petition campaign against the proposed plan to install synthetic turf over the ball field.
August 2004. FoCP and CPEG set up petition drives at Columbus Park , Mott Street and in front of Chatham Towers.
October 2004. FoCP and CPEG informed Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, City Councilman for District One Alan Gerson and other city officials of the results of the petition drives: 3505 signatories & 405 Chinatown Businesses/Asian Organizations signed the petition in favor of a multi-purpose turf over synthetic grass.
October 2004. Councilman for District One, Alan Jay Gerson called a meeting to resolve the ball field issue. Observers, including Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assoc., Asian Americans for Equality, Chinese-American Planning Council-Project Open Door Senior Citizenís Center, Better Chinatown Society, Chinatown Athletic Council, Chinatown YMCA and NYC Parks Department were invited to listen to both sides of the debate. LMDC and New Yorkers for Parks also attended. In closing, Alan J. Gerson surmised from the meeting that both a synthetic grass surface and an asphalt surface would be required to satisfy the needs of most Chinatown residents. He further recognized that: 1) the synthetic turf size must be large enough to support appropriate activities; 2) the volleyball (and other) players needs must be accommodated; and 3) that the recreational needs of seniors must be accommodated as well.
November 2004: Councilmember, Alan Gerson called a meeting with all sides and observers from the previous meeting. The Agreed Plan:
Final NOTE: We encourage everybody in the Chinatown community to use the newly renovated Columbus Park ball field and join us in the next Chinatown community public advocacy initiative, the restoration of the Columbus Park Pavilion!