Final Plan Shown for Ball Fields Barrier Against the Next Big Storm

Rendering of the flood barrier on West Street, near Warren. A decorative, perforated aluminum panel will be attached to the painted steel wall. Credit: Battery Park City Authority/STV 

Sep. 29, 2019

Plans to guard against the next Sandy-like destruction of the Battery Park City ball fields came into sharp focus last week with the release of a near final design of the barrier that will stand at the perimeter of the field for an estimated five years.

The “interim” wall, to remain in place until the neighborhoods other resiliency measures are in place, will be made of one-inch-thick steel plates and built on the outside of the current fence. It is meant to withstand as much as 12 feet of storm flooding, with minimal underground seepage, Battery Park City Authority officials said during a public meeting on Sept. 26. The barrier will be 5-foot 4-inches high at its tallest, varying in height according to the slope of the field’s perimeter. It will be about 3 feet high at its lowest.

“Our intent is to have the wall as low as possible where we don’t need it,” said Deborah Addison, the Authority’s project manager for design and construction.  

With an eye towards easing the wall’s visual impact, the steel will be painted and only partially visible behind an attached decorative aluminum plate.

The $4 million to $5 million project is expected to begin in February and take six months to complete. The barrier will stay up until resiliency projects planned for the neighborhood’s north, west and south sides are finished. The Authority says there is less than a 10 percent chance of storm flooding in the next 10 years that would be heavy enough to spill over the wall.

Construction will encroach onto the fields six to eight feet, but not on the playing surface, Gwen Dawson, the BPCA’s vice president for real property, said. “It won’t be ideal. We’ll still have to put some barriers up along that buffer zone, but that will still allow play to continue on the fields,” she said.

For many people, the most noticeable impact will be along the heavily trafficked pedestrian walkway on West Street between Warren and Murray Streets, which will be closed during construction. Pedestrians will have to share the bike path with cyclists. At the same time, pedestrians will be unable to cut between Warren and Murray Streets at the west side of the fields because of other construction. The sidewalk on Warren Street outside the fields also will be closed.

“It’s going to take a lot of careful coordination and we understand that,” Dawson said.

The construction will also require the removal of nine trees, which will have smaller calibre replacements until they grow to their full size.

A protection plan for the east facing side of Asphalt Green is yet to be finalized, Dawson said. (The community center as well as the fields were badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy.) Because an analysis of underground water seepage shows it to be less than projected, a deployable barrier system rather than the replacement of the windows with storm-proof glass may be sufficient, she said. 

The project changed course earlier this year when the Authority, at the urging of sports league leaders, chose a less protective, non-permanent barrier system that would not disrupt play during construction. With last week’s meeting, the series of consultations with the community over the ball fields has come to an end, the barrier design is all but complete, and protection of the fields is now in sight. 

“We’re very excited because we’re getting close now,” Dawson said. “We’re at a point where we can see this happening.”