Save NYC Softball

Updates

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/

Sincerely,

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

July 25, 2018; Al Morales, YSA

In response to many emails from my office, the Parks Department responded with another shocker. They have been working for years behind the scenes to undermine the softball community without involving us, as evidenced in their email referencing "new rules and regulations" (Administrative Code.  §2-12 Ballfield Permits), adopted, according to them, in 2012. Suddenly, without proper notice, softball is out and frisbee is in. 

We now understand that what’s been happening all spring and summer was a was a red flag – a warning and cue – for what was about to come. This fight has gotten a lot tougher. 

Some of you will remember the meeting we attended in 2012 to discuss the growing problem of the lack of field space and the demand newly formed sports leagues were putting on the permit office. Their answer was to convene a fact finding meeting which, from my recollection, was to talk about the growing problem and try to find a solution.

Many league representatives spoke, including me, with suggestions for better communications among league organizers and creating more field space. It was left that we would receive minutes of the meeting and follow-up information for the for next step. That never happened. We had no idea what they had in the works to "solve" the problem. They have come up with a way to create a bigger problem and have sports leagues battling it out behind the scenes. The softball community has been blindsided. While we were waiting for our next meeting that never came, other forces have been at work changing the rules without public input.