Protecting the BPC Ball Fields: Work on Flood Barriers to Begin in Early 2020

Rendering of "interim" flood protection at the corner of West and Murray Streets, with a 4-foot-high steel plate barrier and decorative surface. Rendering: Battery Park City Authority and STV

Aug. 26, 2019

Flood protection for the Battery Park City ball fields is headed for construction early next year.

The Battery Park City Authority and its contractor have laid out details for an “interim” solution to the unprotected fields that they say could be completed by this time next year, with no disruption to league play. They presented the option last month at a public meeting on storm resiliency plans for the fields. 

The plan calls for a 4-foot-high steel plate wall along the outside perimeter of the field fence that is expected to guard against an 11-foot flood. In addition, flood-proof doors and windows would be installed at the Asphalt Green community center facing the fields.

As recently as last March, it appeared that the Authority was gearing up for a more protective permanent structure—a reinforced 8-foot reinforced concrete wall that would also have a barrier against underground seepage. But that would have meant partially closing the fields during the estimated 15 months of construction at a time when flood protection work is limiting play on Pier 40 and East River Park, the other fields used by local kids. Less field time didn’t sit well with league leaders, and the Authority and STV, the project’s designers, came up with the less disruptive option.

According to STV’s projections, there is a 10 percent chance that, over the next 10 years, the area will be struck with flooding so heavy that it will spill over the interim barrier. The taller, permanent wall, with its below-ground seepage protection, reduces the probability to 4 percent, STV estimated. (The interim plan includes a much shallower below-grade beam that offers less seepage protection.) 

The estimated cost of the interim solution is $4 million to $5 million; the more complex permanent barrier more than doubles that to between $9.5 million to $10.5 million. 

If all goes as planned, in five years the Battery Park City Authority will have constructed barriers in the north and south ends of the neighborhood that will eliminate the need for the interim ball field protection, and the walls can be removed.  

“It seems there are clear advantages to the interim solution,” said Gwen Dawson, the Authority’s vice president for real property. “The big question is whether or not everybody can be comfortable with the additional risk factors for [flooding] during the period before the north and south projects are in place.”

The objective of the interim solution, Dawson said, “would be to get it in place as quickly as we can,and in time for the hurricane season of 2020.

Nobody wants to see a repeat of the kind of $7 million-damage wreaked by Superstorm Sandy on the fields and Asphalt Green community center, when three feet of water flowed up West Street from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.

For this hurricane season the Authority has installed water-filled barriers, called Muscle Walls, around the ball field fences. They are expected to remain in place through November. 

Comments? Write to