The nightmare at a “Field of Dreams” in Pelham Bay may finally be over.
Former Assemblyman and Throggs Neck attorney Steve Kaufman has won a $9,500 settlement for Pelham Bay Little League after a contractor hired by the city Parks Department badly damaged an underground sprinkler system on one of their fields.
The damage led to a three-month delayed start to the 2013 season at the little league, a staple in the Pelham Bay community since the 1950s, and forced league officials to shell out the repair costs themselves for the underground sprinkler system at Naclerio Field.
“These are not-for-profit corporations,” said Kaufman. “You shouldn’t take advantage of anyone, but you should defiantly not take advantage of a little league because they don’t have a lot of money.”
Kaufman meet with league president Vinny Prestopino at the field on Friday, June 6 to present a check from the contractor’s insurance company.
Prestopino said that shelling out about that amount from league fees from players’ families and local sponsors proved to be a real hardship.
“We were happy to get the $9500 for our sprinkler system back,” said Prestopino, who added that the check was going straight from his hands to league vendors. “Thank God Mr. Kaufman was kind enough to offer his services free of charge.”
Kaufman said he did not hesitate for a moment when league officials asked for his help, and not the first time he helped settle another similar type of dispute for the league for free.
“I feel good helping,” said Kaufman.
The league received a $200,000 capital grant from Councilman Jimmy Vacca in 2008, and it was left to the Parks Department to find a contractor.
But the project remained in limbo for several years until UA Construction was selected.
Sometime during the construction process, the contractor drove heavy equipment onto the field and broke parts of the sprinkler system, located several feet below grass and clay, said Prestopino.
The renovation left a lot to be desired, added Prestopino, who pointed out that $82,000 was spent on a backstop which was not tall enough and lacked proper fencing to prevent some fly balls from leaving the field.
The money obtained was a win, and Kaufman was made an honorary member of league, as Prestopino and league officials Will Fesco, Thomas Montilli, Margherita Prestopino DiSalvo and Charley McDonanld celebrated with PBLL players and volunteers.