The installation of synthetic-turf fields at Greis Park, costing $1.3 million and measuring nearly 122,000 square feet in total, is set to begin in March, and will usher in the start of a major renovation of the park.
“My goal is to improve Greis Park to accommodate the growing need for superb recreation facilities,” Mayor Alan Beach said. “Lynbrook’s population is very attuned to physical fitness, and its good family values encourage our youth to participate in sports.”
The Amityville-based LandTek Group will install the fields, with construction scheduled to begin in the third week of March and finish by the end of the summer. Beach said that a 13-year, low-interest bond would cover the installation, at no additional cost to villagers, because the village will soon be retiring old debt.
Greis Park, on Wilbur Street, has four fields, A through D. The turf will be installed on fields C and D, in the southern part of the park, near the basketball court, the Long Island Rail Road tracks and the Lynbrook Fire Department training center. The infield of the baseball and softball diamond on Field A will also be converted into turf. Fields C and D are multi-use fields that host football, lacrosse, soccer, softball and baseball.
Former New York Jets defensive tackle Marty Lyons, LandTek’s vice president of marketing, began talks with village officials in 2016. He made a presentation before the board in March 2018, but talks stalled after that. Discussions were rekindled last September, and the board decided to move forward with the plan.
Lyons told the Herald in 2018 that Lynbrook would be a “perfect fit” for turf fields. “With the amount of play those fields are now getting and the condition they’re in, it really becomes unsafe for the athletes to play on,” he said.
Before the fields are installed, LandTek will construct a drainage system beneath the playing surface. Beach said that part of the reason for the delay in approving the installation of the turf was the need for an engineer to inspect an underground cable about four feet below where the fields will be built to determine whether the drainage system would create any problems. Beach noted that the engineer approved the playing area for turf and assured village officials that the drainage system would not impact the cable.
While Beach has expressed excitement about the project, it has met with mixed reviews from residents. Responding to a Herald inquiry on Facebook, John Reid said that the poor conditions of the grass fields at the park have made it imperative to upgrade the facility.
“As much as I prefer sports to be played on grass, the fields at Greis cannot sustain the amount of use by all the team sports,” Reid wrote. “It’s embarrassing to hear other towns come here and talk about the condition of the fields during games. This is in no way a reflection of those that try to maintain it.”
Elizabeth Schachinger, however, noted that she was concerned about safety. “Crumb rubber gets inhaled and swallowed,” she wrote. “Plus it gets to be well over 100 degrees in the summer.”
Beach said he had considered some residents’ concerns about whether artificial turf comes with health risks, and he has addressed questions regarding their longevity. He said he had met with LandTek consultants and an engineer who is familiar with turf fields, and was assured that there would not be any issues. The mayor added that the fields typically last for 13 years, and that they would “virtually eliminate” expenses for field maintenance, such as the irrigation, fertilizing and cutting required with natural grass. Sections of the turf can also be replaced as needed, he said.
“LandTek has successfully completed a number of turf field projects on Long Island, and for many school districts, including Lynbrook,” Beach said.
Talks with LandTek stalled initially because the village wanted to draft a master plan for the park before moving forward with the fields’ installation. Colorado-based GreenPlay LLC conducted a nine-month, $60,000 study in which it gathered input from thousands of residents through online and mail-in surveys. Village officials are now analyzing plans in order to finalize projects.
The seven-acre park has athletic fields, trails, picnic areas and playgrounds. Officials and residents have said for some time that it needed to be upgraded. In addition to housing the village pool, many of the community’s recreation programs and youth leagues, the park is the site of Patriots’ Day, on Memorial Day eve, among many other events. Beach said that the annual Patriots’ Day fireworks display would not take place this year because the fields will be under construction.
In announcing the master plan in August 2018, Beach labeled Greis Park the “crown jewel” of Lynbrook, but noted that it needed improvements.