New Design Slated for Upper Fields

After a long and often difficult campaign to convince the “powers that be” that a new approach to baseball field construction must be explored, success was finally achieved last week when Mayor Giuliani himself decided that the spiral (or cloverleaf) design plan for the upper ballfields is worth a try.

Thanks to the hard work of Councilman Tom Ognibene and his Chief of Staff, Dennis Gallagher, Juniper Valley Park should have the best fields in the City of New York.

The spiral plan, which would have been doomed if the roller hockey rink was placed where originally planned, is how most fields are designed around the country. But it is new for the NYC Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Henry Stern opposed the cloverleaf plan and fought very hard to defeat it. But in the end what convinced the decision makers was the fact that the current method of rebuilding baseball fields was not working. The evidence is all around us in such parks as Maurice, Mafera, and Reiff. All were recently reconstructed and all have returned to a dilapidated state.

With the new plan for Juniper, it is hoped that these enclosed baseball diamonds will be preserved and adopted by the organizations and teams that use them.

I had the opportunity to view baseball complexes in several cities and states across the country. All were designed and used as baseball fields. Most were designed with the infields in the center going out–a cloverleaf design or spiral design. All of the fields had irrigation systems. Most had lights.

That layout style is used in practice facilities by all Major League baseball teams and is the preferred baseball field layout by municipalities throughout the United States.

Here are a few advantages of the spiral design of the baseball fields:
• The central location of infields allows for easier maintenance.
• The construction of a more efficient and less expensive drainage system (an important consideration for Juniper).
• Better security (since fields can be supervised from a central location).
• Safer playing field – each field is enclosed with outfield fences.
• Would afford spectators the convenience of enjoying several games from a central location.
• Most of the players and spectators watching baseball games are concentrated in the center of the park, at the furthest point away from surrounding homes thus minimizing noise from spectators.
• More efficient use of space (less wasted or dead space).

Additionally, the spiral design for the baseball fields would allow more space for the proposed roller hockey rink. Under the spiral plan, the hockey rink would be located much closer to restrooms and park storage & maintenance facilities.

Construction on the roller hockey rink should start later this month and will open for the spring season as originally planned. Construction on the upper ballfields should start late next year.

Spiral (or cloverleaf) design for the upper fields at Juniper Valley Park. Fields (2 full-size and 1 little league) feature outfield fences, sprinkler system and infield grass.