If Ambrosini Park were a student, it would have just received a gold star. Ambrosini Ballfield and Playground is being honored as the Parks Department’s Park of the Month.
Parks describes Ambrosini, located at the corner of Winters Street and City Island Avenue, as a waterfront gem in the city where residents and visitors can discover “the charms of island living.”
A Parks Department statement said that Ambrosini Ballfield and Playground was chosen because it is the only public field complex and playground, and it forms the recreational centerpiece on the island, attracting residents and visitors alike.
The park boasts a newly reconstructed baseball diamond and field that is home to the City Island Little League.
The field was reconstructed in 2008 with $1.8 million in Department of Environmental Protection Croton Mitigation Funds. The little leaguers now enjoy new backstops, natural turf fields, bleacher seating and an irrigation system.
Next to the field is a colorful playground in the shape of a sailboat, evoking the island’s nautical heritage.
“Ambrosini Ballfield and Playground is a gem in this City Island community,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Visitors can play ball, slide down the nautical-themed jungle gym, and take in great views of Long Island Sound.”
The playground includes swings, a spray shower, and an adult exercise unit.Throughout the field and playground are new drinking fountains, fencing, picnic tables, benches, plantings, and pavement.
The field honors Anthony Abraham Ambrosini, an inspirational coach and prominent member of the City Island community from 1956 until his passing in 1994. The corner of City Island Avenue and Early Street is also named in his memory.
Ambrosini grew up in Belmont on Prospect Avenue before moving to City Island with his wife and daughter. “Ambro,” as he was commonly known, coached the football, basketball, and baseball teams of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and trained both the Apache Little League team and the adult softball team, in addition to coaching City Island Little League.
Ambrosini also formed the City Island Giants football team and coached basketball at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church. Upon retirement from his printing job, he devoted himself to coaching on a full-time basis.
The playground is used not only by Island children, but also by summertime visitors. City Island Civic Association member Barbara Dolensek said that the new play area was especially useful in entertaining a house guest who had a two-year-old toddler.
“I have to say that my nephew and his family, who were visiting from North Carolina, had a great time at that playground,” Dolensek said. “It was something that we never had to offer before. It is the only playground we have on City Island and it took us many years to get it, so we’re grateful for it.”
Dolensek said that while the renovations are great, the waterfront area next to the park needs to be locked up at night because abandoned docks and wharfs, whose ownership is in question, become a hangout for teens.