After a long wait, McKinley Park finally has its field of dreams.
Although baseball season is over, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher and members of the community gathered at McKinley Park, Fort Hamilton Parkway and 73rd Street, on Thursday, November 17 to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated ball field.
The field will be home to St. Anselm Catholic Academy’s Youth Softball Program and will be open to the public when the school is not using it.
The project, which was funded with $2.5 million allocated by Gentile and Borough President Eric Adams replaced asphalt with a synthetic turf field that will allow members of the community not only to play softball, but several other sports as well.
“It’s a great day here in McKinley Park,” Maher told this paper. “The councilmember and the borough president put some funding together and it looks great. Before that, this was an asphalt area that hadn’t been repaired in a long time. It was a cracked, hard surface and you could only really play softball on it. Now it’s a synthetic turf field. It absorbs storm water. It has a great, soft surface for kids. You can play little league, softball, soccer, tag football. It’s so much more versatile.”
Gentile, whose term ends in January, wanted to get the park finished before that so the field was completed ahead of schedule.
“It took a long time,” he said. “I really wanted to do this because the parents and pastor were adamant that they really wanted to get a field for the little ones. I’m just pleased that even though it’s not baseball weather, we came out here today because the field was done, a month before I leave office.”
He also discussed the upgrades.
“Those who know what it looked like before know how nice this looks now. We went from a cracked cement field that was filled with rubble and broken glass to what we see now,” he added. “This beautiful, state-of-the-art synthetic turf field will be what the little leaguers of St. Anselm can call their home field. They’re excited about it. This is a field people can be proud of as opposed as to what we used to have here.”
New benches and bleacher seating allow fans to cheer on teams, while player benches and a new storage container provide seating and a place to keep equipment for games. New accessible drinking fountains keep players hydrated and misting stations keep the turf cool on hot summer days.
District Manager for Community Board 10 Josephine Beckmann told the crowd the McKinley is her home park. “I only live a few blocks away and for so many years, when my children were small, we walked by this field and were not able to use it because of its condition,” she said. “It really wasn’t made for young people to play on. When I look at it today, I see how it’s been transformed from asphalt to this beautiful playfield, so children from our community will be able to utilize it. It certainly is a field of dreams made possible by a community that consistently works together to improve itself.”
In addition, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) also made improvements around the park including additional angled parking on the service road along Seventh Avenue adjacent to the Gowanus Expressway.
“There will be more than enough parking for any kind of event, and it will alleviate the parking within the residential community.” Gentile said.