Football players destroy girls’ softball field

First it was acts of vandalism has threatened to ruin the Throggs Neck Girls Softball League season. Now a new culprit is doing harm to the field at Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park – cleats.

An adult men’s football league is using the softball field. The heavy traction of men running in cleats on the outfield grass and the infield clay has ripped up the field, creating deep ruts that need to be corrected before the start of next season, TNGSL president Rachel Mazza said.

The Parks Department has provided a fence that the softball league has installed to protect the outfield grass from further damage. The fence is needed, Mazza said, to keep the football players off the grass.

“The outfield is just ruined, and it is too late in the year to plant new grass.” Mazza said. “It is also too expensive to fix. In the spring and summer we are there every day raking the infield, and we can get the clay on the infield smooth. But the grass in the outfield is a big problem.”

Community Board 10 is investigating whether or not the football league has permits to use the field. Mazza raised the issue at an October meeting. CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns requested that Parks Enforcement and the NYPD make sure the football players have all appropriate permits. According to a Parks Department source, the football players do not have a permit.

CB 10 Parks Committee member Pat Devine said that he believes as long as the infield is preserved, the football league can play there.

“Rachel must have made a lot of noise,” Devine said. “I know the parks department has put in a temporary fence, and I hope that the football players don’t rip it out of the ground. I was alright with the football teams playing there, as long as they don’t play on the infield.”

Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park is without a comfort station, and having upwards of 50 men using the field for football may require a Port-a-Sans, Devine added.

After the renovations of the park are complete, the area where the softball field is located will be the only part of the park that will remain open space, with a victory garden and tree plantings in the works for the rest of the park, Devine said.

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