SHEER MUDNESS

Oops, park planners created new infields for baseball, but left outfields, soccer pitches barren

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The muddy terrain of the soccer field was no obstacle whatsoever for Babi Kruchin, even as parts of her boots sank into the ground. Playing a game of fetch on the open field with her dog, Tashi, was much more important.

The newfound image of Seton Park in Riverdale is a seemingly contradictory one. After months of construction, the park’s ballfields are shiny, new and ready for the upcoming baseball season in the spring. But some of the other areas of the park remained untouched by the renovations, and now seem out of place.

Ground broke for the park’s much-needed renovations last April. The state legislature allotted $1.9 million to the project, focusing primarily on the park’s baseball and softball fields with artificial turf. The project also included a renovation of the park’s southeastern entrance.

Design for the ballfield renovations began in September 2015, and construction was expected to conclude last fall. The renovations are now complete — a few months later than expected —  but the unfinished parts have some scratching their heads, including Fuat Baran, who has strolled through the park on sunny days since moving to Riverdale in 1985. The construction, however, has made it difficult for him to enjoy one of his favorite reading spots.

“They seem to have finished the work on the ballfield and the new construction looks lovely,” Baran said, “but left the ugly fencing in place, bisecting the park, and impacting use and maintenance of the rest of the field.”

The finishing touches of the renovation were completed Jan. 30, according to Councilman Andrew Cohen’s office, and the fences roping off the ballfields from the rest of the park were removed later that day.

After being asked about the fencing and unfinished work, the city’s parks department told The Riverdale Press, the ballfields would finally be open beginning last weekend.

And just like that, nine months after actual construction first began, the ballfield renovation is complete and the fences are now gone. However, park visitors believe some of the untouched areas of the construction project could use some of the same tender loving care the ballfields received. That includes the open area that serves as the park’s soccer field. Muddy and devoid of much vegetation, if any at all, the soccer field presented a stark contrast to the pristine new turf on the newly renovated ballfields.

A few recent park visitors, however, paid the muddy area little mind. Children chased each other in the open field, and Kruchin tossed an abandoned tennis ball around for Tashi to fetch on the open field.

“I understand that they were fenced in order for the grass to grow, so I’m all for that,” Kruchin said. “But I’m happier with them … going down, but I only have a dog. I don’t have kids. So to be honest, it hasn’t affected me a lot, personally.”

Also left untouched was the fenced-in dog run toward the back of the park which now seems out of place among the new athletic fields.

“It’s funny that they only improved (the ballfields) and they didn’t improve (the soccer field) or the dog run, Kruchin said. “It’s only the (baseball) diamonds.”

Although the new baseball fields are sure to draw some heavy foot traffic, the same could be said for Seton Park’s dog run. A refurbished area for the dogs could possibly draw even more people — and their furry friends — to the park, Kruchin said. She had a few other ideas as well.

“Just fix the fences and put a bit more mulch,” she said. “In Van Cortlandt Park, they have (an) obstacle course. There are so many dogs in the neighborhood. That could be nice.”

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