August 8, 2018; Email to City Officials
To: City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, City Council Parks Committee Chair Barry Grodenchik, and Council Members Carlina Rivera, Mark Levine and Dianna Aylia
As softball league organizers and members of the softball community, we are requesting a meeting with the Parks Commissioner and his staff, and members of your staff as well, to discuss a pending destructive action the Manhattan Parks & Recreation permit office is considering. We are calling for a moratorium on issuing fall permits until our concerns are addressed, and are interested in hearing their justification for implementing last minute rules and regulations which will damage the softball and baseball community in your district.
You may not be aware that the Parks Department is planning to not issue permits for adult softball for the Fall 2018 (and beyond) season, in favor of other sports that are not only less popular, but involve significantly more wear and tear and destruction of public fields. This will cost the City and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to remedy, and is a significant and radical change in a policy that has been followed for at least three decades.
Our goal is to forestall the implementation of this broad policy change by the Manhattan permit office until critical information is shared among all stakeholders and due process is observed. It has become clear that permits which have been used for decades by adult softball recreational leagues are being reallocated to adult kickball, ultimate frisbee, rugby and other sports. This will result in a disruption in the use of some of the fields in your district and displacement of leagues with a proven record of being good for the community. We recently verified that the permit office is leaving some fields completely idle. As a result of these questionable – and abrupt – new rules and regulations, city softball teams have lost three months of play, and are now in danger of being unable to complete the upcoming spring and summer playoff season. And in an unprecedented and extremely damaging move, the permit office has now decided – without any prior notice, meeting or announcement – to eliminate fall baseball and softball completely.
To be clear, we deeply respect other sports, and welcome increased participation in an active lifestyle and full utilization of park resources. However, the elimination of fall softball will impact tens of thousands of New Yorkers who have been playing and supporting the local economy through this pastime for decades. The adult softball community is likely the most diverse form of recreation on public property as far as age, racial, ethnic, and economic background, and gender and sexual orientation. It is truly a microcosm of who we are as New Yorkers. For most of this community, it is their primary form of recreation and exercise, and for some it is their sole source. Also, many prominent corporations and local businesses rely on their softball team(s) for company morale, team building, recruiting, and job retention. We are asking for a level playing field and the same access to resources that is being made available to soccer, football, rugby and frisbee. We also need transparency, honesty and access to information before major decisions are made and implemented.
We have been joined by more than 1,000 concerned members of the softball and baseball community, who have taken the time to sign our Change.org petition.
Please assist us in working with the city to continue the proud — and fun — tradition of fall softball in NYC by convening a meeting with the Parks Commissioner and all appropriate personnel to answer our questions and determine the suitable, and fair, course of action.
For more information about the United Athletic Association, please see our website at http://uaasports.org/
Adolfo Morales, Chairman, United Athletic Association; Yorkville Sports Association
Jeff Marcus, Big Apple NYC
Jeff James, Big Apple Softball League
Pauline Gambuto, EDSO Sports
Jack Oppenheim, Friends of Heckscher
Michael Lattanzio, N.Y.C. Metro Sports, Inc.
Jean Silver, NYC Softball League
Bill McHugh, New York Show Business Softball League