NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Parents in Upper Manhattan complained of danger on the playground, with swingsets and a sandbox perilously close to baseball fields at a Manhattan Park.
It appears to be a bad combination, and as CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reports, residents said the stories of near misses, and actual accidents with children, prove it.
The sandbox at Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park should be a safe place for kids to play, but just steps away there’ a baseball field. The balls were being hit into the air, with many landing just inches away from young children.
Just before CBS 2’s cameras arrived, 1-year-old Liam Meyerhoeffer was nearly struck by a batted ball.
“As we were coming in the gate today, a ball came within a foot of his head – came over the fence and almost hit him,” father Troy Meyerhoeffer said.
“I mean it’s by accident, but when you have kids playing like directly here, and you have balls go over, and it goes directly into the sandbox,” Inwood resident Dasha Thomas said while visiting the park with her nephew.
The ball fields are fenced in and the playground is gated, but when you have young players still learning – and fences that parents said aren’t enough – near misses happen.
“It’s happened to me personally,” resident Glenda Rivera said. “The gates, I don’t think they’re high enough on the field, and there’s no one policing them.”
It’s easy to blame the little league games and players for foul balls, but coaches said it’s not their players who are to blame. They said it’s other people with no respect for the children at play.
“If nobody plays over there, we don’t have that kind of trouble,” coach Gabriel Montilla said.
Montilla said it’s clear where the balls are coming from: the so-called fence practices, where players hit the balls for fun and with force.
“I think the Department of Parks need to talk to those people,” Montilla said.
The Parks Department said they’re looking into the situation.
“This week, our staff will do a cost estimate to see approximately how much it would cost to move the fence-line in and install a higher fence,” the department said in a statement.
Until then, playtime at Inwood Hill Park means play at your own risk.
So far, no children have been seriously injured, but parents said that if one of those baseballs hits a baby or small child, it could be deadly.