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Vandals Force League To Cancel Events

The Throggs Neck Girls Softball League was planning to hold a game and a picnic in the sunny summer weather on Saturday, July 17.

Now, because of continued vandalism of the team’s equipment and their field at Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, the events were cancelled.

“It’s very frustrating,” Rachel Mazza, president of the league, said. “We’ve had to cancel a lot of things. It’s getting a little overbearing.”

The latest incident of vandalism occurred on Tuesday, July 13, and the batting cages were the target. The Throggs Neck Merchants Association had donated the batting cages to the girls only three weeks before.

“That was a pretty long time ago,” she said, referring to other incidents where vandals have destroyed equipment within days of the league purchasing it.

“We thought we were in the clear. We kept monitoring it, but no.”

Before the batting cages were destroyed, it was the outfield, which the vandals attempted to burn.

Before that, two portable toilets were destroyed by vandals in a three-day period.

What is most disturbing for Mazza is that the batting cages were in the view of a surveillance camera, which was installed last year thanks to a $5,000 grant from Senator Jeff Klein. Both the toilets and outfield are not monitored by the cameras.

Officials with the City Parks Department, which owns the park, were still reviewing the tape on Monday, July 19.

Since none of the property that has been vandalized prior to July 13 is the property of the Throggs Neck Girls Softball League, Mazza has not been able to file police reports about the incidents.

However, because the batting cages belonged to the league, Mazza said she plans file a police report and press charges if possible.

“If there’s anything on those tapes, absolutely,” she said. “The cameras are not a deterrent at this point, so let’s just hope and pray that they find something.”

In October 2009, the sidewalk and shed were spray-painted with swastikas and other offensive symbols in full view of the cameras. However, there was a problem with the equipment, and no charges were filed stemming from the incident.

For now, the league will keep playing games, but will be forced to, once again, practice at rented batting cages, which can cost more than $60 an hour.

“We have to go back and start paying for batting cage time when we could have had it right here,” she said. “But we just can’t have anything.”

While the league’s pitching machine is still in working condition, a new cage could cost up to $2,000.

Mazza said she continues to speak with local elected officials and officers with the 45th Precinct but has not gotten much of a response, aside from being asked if the league would consider moving to another field.

“And what does it say to relocate? We hand the park over to the vandals, and then what are we doing? Retreating?,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com

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