A new soccer field 14 years in the making finally opened Saturday on Staten Island on land that was once part of the former Fresh Kills landfill, and its opening comes at the perfect time on a borough battered by Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
With the kick of a ball, a new generation of Staten Island soccer began Saturday at the newly opened Owl Hollow Field.
The state-of-the-art facility is the first section of the former Fresh Kills landfill to be open to the public.
"I saw it just driving down. I was, like, so surprised," said Angelina Cipriani, a soccer player. "I would never think on Staten Island they would have this, and it looks very cool with all the lights and the fields."
Opening Owl Hollow was no easy feat. Plans for the field started back in 1999. Fourteen years and dozens of stops and starts later, the space now boasts Astroturf, stadium lighting and four fields. Two are junior fields for younger players, and two are regulation-sized fields for those more advanced.
It was slated to open in 2007, but transforming the 28-acre plot from landfill to parkland proved more difficult than expected.
"We had to use edible soil, which is to make sure that there is unbelievable protection here for anybody playing, like we have at parks throughout the city. So that was an issue," said Staten Island City Councilman Vincent Ignizio. "And the overall construction time took longer than anticipated because of construction delays and inclement weather."
"I think it's good that they turned something that was bad and they made something good out of it," said Jamie Daluise, a soccer player.
Hurricane Sandy significantly damaged several island soccer fields, leaving thousands of soccer players with no place to practice or hold games. That added urgency to the push to open Owl Hollow Field.
"There's actually still construction going on on the site," said Staten Island Parks Commissioner Adena Long. "The permanent parking lot is not complete. We're expecting that it will be complete by August. And what we did was, we used the comfort station site and we turned that into a temporary parking lot so that we were able to open to the public a little bit earlier.
Long said construction on the comfort station will begin next year and should be completed by 2016.
In the meantime, port-a-potties have been set up.
Players don't seem to mind. They're just happy to have a new place to play.