The new field at Rufus King Park in Jamaica features controversial "crumb rubber" made of tiny bits of shredded tires, which acts as artificial dirt, or infill, between synthetic blades of grass. An average soccer field uses 27,000 recycled tires.
"It's obviously completely against [Mayor] Bloomberg's phony greening of New York," said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. "They're taking away grass. It's absurd. Grass produces oxygen - it cleans the air."
Astoria's St. Michael's Park - under renovation since September - was also slated for recycled tire turf. But in April, the Parks Department changed course and ordered infill made of virgin rubber for the 120,000-square-foot field, Queens News has learned.
Concerns grow over phony turf as Rufus King Park opens new field
The new turf costs 38% more, adding nearly $500,000 dollars to the price tag of the field, scheduled to open in September.
At last week's ribbon-cutting in Jamaica, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the upgrade in Astoria wasn't prompted by health concerns.
The city began installing synthetic turf 10 years ago. Queens now has 29 faux fields.