Friday, January 27, 2012

Permit Me to Introduce Myself

Today I attended a Public Hearing

at the very nice Chelsea Recreation Center regarding the following rule amendment that impacts us all

"For applications received during the relevant application period, the Parks Department will first consider Youth Recreation (under 18) permit requests before any Adult Recreation permit requests. Adult applications will be considered after"

The City requires public hearings to institute new policy, but the truth is that it has been voted upon and already decided beforehand.  They were pretty much just collecting comments and opinions.That's why many interested parties were well represented and on hand

to express their thoughts on this issue and the importance of the Power of the Permit.

Youth Advocates stated their case

Now that their permit monopoly is threatened other tried to "work something out"

Now - Boooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if work something out means join my league, just wondering.

Admirably, Adult Softball Advocates AKA "Fievrues" stood up and gave more genuine appeals

for the love of the game and the city we live in.

While I am glad the permit process is under going long overdue changes by not just "grandfathering" request, there is a clear and present danger in a general broad Youth Leagues come first policy. What if a newly formed youth league forces a good loyal law abiding tax paying permit holder to lose their privileges?  Is that fair? Of course not. No one wants to lose their permit. What it means for the future - who knows? 

I have dealt with the Park's Department for 13 years and they have improved, but they still need help with this and the following issues:
  1. Permit Costs have increased 50%, but they have very little weekend staff due to budget cuts. This is a contradiction. Very frustrating. Poor perception
  2. Lack of Staff - makes it difficult to check on field use and provide proper maintenance.
  3. Youth Leagues needs should be more closely examined as this could be a seasonal or time related issue. Weekends are a challenge.
  4. Other Policy Issues that should change "Maximum time that any adult single-permit holder/league may control a field is set at 32 hours a week,  per park." There is no limit or extra cost for holding a certain number of permits. This has created monopolies who hoard the fields, provide a lousy product,  and over charge NYC residents/companies for very right to play on the  fields they pay taxes on. This makes no sense. Institute a permit cap number.
  5. Another Questionable Policy - "The Park's Department reserves the right to require clean-up bond and/or liability insurance for the use of the field." Some leagues can't afford this.
This is a wonderful city it would be a shame if we were not Permitted to play anymore.


  1. Due to re-urbanization of families and a recent baby boom, youth leagues are in more need than ever of outdoor recreation space. City planners do not require developers to provide "active" open space when building new structures, so you basically have more people using the same resources. Higher costs/fewer staff reflects a shift to a true usage fee system. Parks budget must have been cut severely due to budget constraints, but the higher permit fees still do not cover the shortfall, so staff and services remain subpar.

    The previous system worked as it should to a degree, despite poor organization and haphazard planning. An equitable system would give youth leagues precedence during after school hours (until 5 pm or so) and until noon on weekends. That makes the most sense and still allows the people who actually pay for the permits and the park's upkeep (i.e. adults) to enjoy the fields as well.

    For the adult leagues, a seniority system makes sense that rewards established leagues with a track record, together with a limitation on field permits in terms of total permits or hours so there isn't unnecessary hoarding. It makes logical and equitable sense to give actual leagues 100% priority over random groups who only want a field here and there. For example, church and corporate groups routinely rent a field which BASL loses sometime in the summer (creating an awkward bye week), and then don't even show up. For unproven leagues, the danger is the league doesn't make it or isn't run well, and field time is wasted. In life, you don't get equal footing just for showing up, why should a new league have equal priority to an established league just because they got their permits in on time?

    With such limited resources, it makes more sense to reward longevity and consistency. Besides, GL fields 5 and 6 are only available for special permits, and mostly all we see is pickup games because those fields are underutilized. It's a bad and wasteful policy even if the fields are getting pretty good use anyway on a first come first served basis. It seemz crazy that the prime location in the city could be wasted in that way given these issues.

    The only way to really alleviate the field situation is to put up lights and get more use out of them, but it would kill the aesthetic of the park, create safety issues and would never get support from those who pay millions to live around the park.

  2. Fields on the East River serve as the best example of the problem, Youth leagues have field there from April through the end of August yet their leagues run through the end of June. If the parks department doesn't see or realize this how will they police anything? Youth leagues are for profit entities for the most part and pay nothing in league fees. What's wrong with this picture?

    As for your distaste for Al Morales, where were all of these leagues in the 70's and 80's when no one would step foot in Central Park??? He and the other largest adult league account for %7 of all permits. How is this a monopoly???