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Monday, December 22, 2014

Construction displaces Kingsbridge Little League

By Felix Holoszyc-Pimentel
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Cooney Grauer Field on Bailey Avenue between West 233rd street and West 234th Street is set to re-open in the fall of 2014 according signs posted by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Ongoing construction at the Kingsbridge Little League’s home field has forced teams to play on a less desirable plot with little parking nearby, circumstances which an organizer says have discouraged players from participating.

“There’s a reason the little kids don’t play on the big field,” league President Chris Navarro said of the organization’s temporary home on a field at Van Cortlandt Park.

He explained that the outfield is so big, it makes it virtually impossible for children to hit a home run. He added that the quality of the infield is shoddy and parents lament the lack of parking options in the area.

The Department of Parks and Recreation initiated improvements on the Kingsbridge Little League’s longtime home of Cooney Grauer Field in November. Those include replacing a failing fence, relocating electrical facilities so they are safely underground and laying new concrete pavement at different parts of the field.

A Parks spokesperson said the project is on track to conclude this fall. While Parks Design Supervisor Steve DesNoyer previously told The Press the work would take three months, the spokesperson said that was not an accurate estimate.

On a bright note for the league, the Parks Department said it was nixing previous plans to get rid of Cooney Grauer Field’s batting cage. The spokesman said that aside from some vine removal, the feature would remain in its current condition.

Mr. Navarro said while Parks did not make a final deadline for the work clear to him, he had not expected the league to have access to Cooney Grauer Field this season.

Talks on improving Cooney Grauer Field — named after the community leader who made it his mission to provide a Kingsbridge home for young baseball players — began in 2012. Mr. Navarro said if construction began last summer, instead of in November, the league would have been able to play on its home field this year.

“It’s a big difference,” Mr. Navarro said of the field at Van Cortlandt Park, adding that the lack of a concession stand is among the factors that have reduced enrollment for this summer’s season.

The league president said that work to at the field appears to be slow going.

 “You come here every day, and see nobody working,” he said. 

TEEN CENTER: The Riverdale Community Center at MS/HS 141, 660 W. 237th St., offers a Friday night teen center from 7 to 10 p.m. The free program is open to youths of the community ages 11 to 16. Excellent supervision is provided, along with games and many activities in the large gym. Call 718-796-4724 for more information.

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