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Mysterious flood damages Little League storefront

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Water and baseball do not always mix.

Such was the case Saturday morning when members of the nonprofit Bayside Little League found their longtime 39th Avenue office flooded with hot water, overflowing from a bathroom sink in the vacant apartment above.

Bayside Little League Commissioner Bob Reid said “we opened the door for registration at 9 a.m. and were blasted with hot air. It was just pouring down.”

Reid and resident Curtis Shepherd said they discovered a sink in the vacant apartment above the Little League Saturday morning turned on and the drain stopped up by some sort of paper. The pair estimated the water was left on for at least a couple of days.

Both said they were approached by a man in the last two months who identified himself as a new owner of the building and tried to convince them to get out. Reid said when he referred the man to the Little League’s lawyer, the visitor became agitated.

The future of the Little League and the building’s other tenants has been in doubt since United Artists, which owns the building, filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and tried to sell the property for redevelopment. In January 2001 UA filed papers in federal bankruptcy court to cancel or “reject” hundred of leases in its theaters across the country, including several in its Bayside theater.

A representative for UA’s real estate division repeatedly refused comment on any impending sale of the Bayside theater, but Reid said the spokesman, Scott Hall, did talk to him.

“He said the building is being sold and the papers are being signed” Oct. 19, Reid said Monday. Reid said Hall confirmed to him that the new owners negotiating with UA gave the same name as the man who approached the Little League and other tenants about leaving.

The Little League has occupied its office at 213-37 39th Ave., which is in the same building as the Bayside Movie Theater, since at least the mid-1960s, Reid and other members of the group said.

The Bayside Movie Theater building houses several private apartments and businesses, including the Little League, the Bayside Camera Shop, Philips Brokerage of Bayside and A Place for Posters.

On a routine weekend morning the Bayside Little League would open for business early, setting up tables and chairs to greet children looking to register for the upcoming spring season. The Little League serves about 900 kids, and its staff works on a volunteer basis.

Instead they spent Saturday morning cleaning up after being flooded out. The water soaked the rug, blew out half the ceiling tiles and ruined several plaques and desks positioned along a back wall in the office. Reid said several Little League records were damaged but salvageable but the equipment was spared harm from the flooding.

The only access to the private apartments in the building, Reid and Shepherd said, is through a door with a deadbolt lock. Few people have a key, they said.

“It’s hard to believe it was accidental,” Reid said of the flooding. “It’s really weird that somebody was upstairs and just turned the water on.”

Reid said the flooding may have been an effort to intimidate the Little League into moving out of the building.

“They’re attacking the children,” he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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