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Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today cut the ribbon on the $4.6 million restoration of Central Park's 20-acre North Meadow. This project included the reconstruction of the twelve existing ballfields and five soccer fields, the reseeding of all lawns, the installation of a modern, environmentally-protective irrigation and drainage system, and landscaping. The Mayor was joined by Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern, Central Park Conservancy Chairman A.J.C. Smith, and Central Park Administrator Douglas Blonsky.
"Central Park has always been the crown jewel of New York City's park system," Mayor Giuliani said. "The restoration of the North Meadow Ballfields is another chapter in the success story of Central Park. Its renaissance over the last several years has mirrored the renaissance of the City as a whole and given New Yorkers a beautiful escape from the rigors of urban life. I am pleased to join Commissioner Stern and the Central Park Conservancy to celebrate the completion of this recreational resource."
Commissioner Stern said, "First the Sheep Meadow, then the Great Lawn. Today the $4.6 million, Mayorally funded North Meadow completes the third giant step in the restoration of Central Park's major open spaces."
Central Park Conservancy President Karen H. Putnam said, "This project is yet another milestone in the successful 20 year partnership between the Conservancy and the City of New York, which has resulted in the revitalization of what is perhaps the worlds most prized City park."
Funding for this project came from a capital budget appropriation
at the direction of Mayor Giuliani. The renovation adds one new soccer field
(bringing the total to six) and will eliminate the overlap of the outfields
on two of the ballfields. 717,000 square feet of Kentucky Bluegrass sod were
used to rebuild the ballfields and each was outfitted with reconstructed infields,
new backstops, players' benches and dugout fencing. All paved pathways around
the fields were reconstructed; new trees were planted; and new drinking fountains
were installed. All landscaping matches the historic character of the meadow.
Construction began in June of 1998. The project's first phase was the excavation of the existing field surfaces. The site was then regraded, and the underground drainage and irrigation system was installed. Next, pavement and landscaping improvements were made, and new topsoil was spread over the fields. The next summer, the North Meadow was sodded with new grass and, in order to allow the roots of the new grass to fully "knit," or mature, the lawn remained dormant for twelve months.
The design phase began with a series of meetings between the Central Park Conservancy (CPC) and Parks, and dozens of community groups. Parks and CPC formed the North Meadow Advisory Committee, which consulted closely with the public, including all affected Community Boards, school athletic directors, and representatives of child and adult baseball, softball and soccer leagues who use the fields.
Like the Great Lawn, by the early-1990s the North Meadow had deteriorated due to intense use and poor drainage. Much of the soil under the open field areas suffered from severe "compaction," or the elimination of air and water pockets that aerate root systems