Bedlam broke out at Monday’s Community Board 11 meeting — brought on not by any of the usual suspects like the city Board of Standards and Appeals or the Star Nissan auto company but by Little League baseball bleachers.
In the end, the board voted 19-12 to approve the Bayside Little League’s plan to install, at its own cost, three aluminum bleachers at the baseball fields in Crocheron Park along 35th Avenue. The vote capped off a night of heated debate, throughout which Chairman Jerry Iannece often had trouble keeping order.
Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and a member of the board’s Parks Committee, said he did not attend the committee’s meeting on the issue earlier last month and said nearby homeowners were not notified.
He wrote a letter opposing the bleachers, which said they would become available to “feral teenagers, for drinking, drugging, and ‘party-ing’” as well as “homeless people for ‘beds’ and/or ‘occupation’ a-la Zuccotti Park.”
Bob Reid, president of the Bayside Little League, presented a proposal to install three three-tiered bleachers, 15 feet long by 6 feet wide by 3 feet tall, on concrete slabs.
“The parents came to me and asked, ‘How come our fields do not have bleachers?’” he said, noting that the league has about 800 members.
Reid brought several parents and their young Little Leaguers, as well as neighbors of the park, to the meeting to give their testimonies.
John Smith, who said he has lived on 35th Avenue for 15 years and walks his dog in the park every morning, said he did not believe the park did, or would, attract an undesirable element.
“It’s always clean and there’s no beer bottles,” he said.
Kate Boehme said she was happy the league played in the park across from her home.
“There’s baseball in the park and all’s right with the world,” she said, adding she believed the bleachers would be an eyesore.
Board member Ted Teng said the bleachers belong, if anywhere, on a baseball field and that the league itself would do more to stop teenagers from turning to alcohol use.
“In a world of absentee parents, we should be helping the parents who have the time to come out and support their kids,” he said.
A handful of board members, including Skala, criticized Iannece for running something akin to a public hearing on the issue when it was not on the agenda and often interrupted the chairman and called for him to recuse himself from the meeting.
Iannece got into a few shouting matches as he tried to keep order.
At the height of raucous arguing and gavel-banging inside the auditorium at MS 158, Iannece yelled, “These are bleachers; they’re not brothels!”
Representatives from Services Now for Adult Persons also stopped by the meeting to announce SNAP will begin providing shuttle service for residents of CB 11 in January.
Cathy Cahn said the program received a grant that allowed it to purchase two vans and two cars, which will transport those 60 and over to its Queens Village Creedmoor center where seniors are served about 150 lunches daily.
“It’s exciting to reach out to a new community and a more diversified community,” she said.
SNAP also provides transportation to medical facilities as well as for grocery shopping and community resources such as trips to the bank. Visitors to its senior centers can participate in Arts & Crafts, exercise and dance programs and computer and creative writing classes.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2011 Community News Group
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