Adult Ball-Field Users Worry Reform Is Too Kid-Friendly

IMG_0676Stephen Rex Brown A member of the Just For Kicks adult softball league (left) testifies at today’s hearing.

The proposed changes to the system governing ball fields in city parks drew around 140 people today, many of whom expressed concern that a new priority for youth leagues would end up pushing adult games out.

If the reforms by the Parks Department are approved, youth leagues will be given priority when considering new ball-field permit applications.

“It’s silly to think this can’t lead to adult leagues being pushed out entirely,” said David Nierenberg, who plays in the Mundys Softball League in Brooklyn. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

Most youth-league operators, on the other hand, urged the Parks Department to reform the system. “There is no reason for children to be turned away at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday because of a corporate league,” said Dena Martin, who works for Manhattan Youth Recreation and Resources.

But if there was one thing nearly all the attendees agreed on, it was the need for more accountability within the permit system, which many said was rife with abuse. “I know you give people permits who don’t use them,” said Peter Strumph of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, addressing Parks Department officials. “I know because they offer them to me.”

John Rosenmiller of the Big Apple Softball League echoed Mr. Strumph’s sentiment. “There are problems at parks that they don’t go out and check,” he said, later adding, “It’s not a youth league issue, it’s an efficiency issue.”

A spokesman for the Parks Department said that the testimony from today’s hearing at the Chelsea Recreation Center would be reviewed within roughly the next 30 days, and that some revisions could be made to the proposed changes based on the feedback. If approved, the changes will come into effect starting in the Fall season.