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Canarsie Park baseball diamonds in need of polishing

The baseball fields in Canarsie Park are diamonds in the rough that local activists want to see shined up in short order.

Specifically, the 69th Precinct Community Council wants the six fields in the park used by their teams put in good shape for their junior sluggers, who play in the park all summer and who, in the past, have had to sit out days after rainstorms have flooded the fields.

The point was made — in spades — to a representative of the city’s Parks Department during the community council’s March meeting, which was held at the Hebrew Educational Society, on Seaview Avenue at East 95th Street.

“Will the ball fields be ready for our children for July?” asked Mary Salogub, the community council’s treasurer. “They were a mess last year. When it rains, we have puddles that sit. I enjoy the children sitting with me, but they’re supposed to be playing ball.”

Lawrence Major, the park and recreation manager for Community Boards 17 and 18, said that the agency’s goal was to have the fields playable by the spring and summer ball seasons. “Unfortunately, they don’t have any drains, but we will do what they can,” he told the group.

Phil Abramson, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, confirmed the problem.

“After heavy rain fall, the field closest to the field house is usually the most affected,” he said. “It holds large volumes of standing water behind the backstop and home plate area. Rain water sheets from paved surfaces towards the backstop, which is the lowest point of the field. There are no catch basins at this location to relieve it.”

Abramson promised “aeration efforts and adding clay” to help keep the water off the fields.

The 69th Precinct baseball program has served youngsters in the community for more than four decades, with Salogub’s own son, John — now the council president — having played baseball in the program, Salogub recalled.

Approximately 300 children between the ages of five and 14 participate in the low-cost program (under $100 per child) each year, she said, enjoying not only afternoons of play but also a trip to watch a Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island or a pizza party (for the youngest players), as well as T-shirts and trophies for all.

The park is undergoing a $20 million multi-phase renovation. The first phase, including a new cricket field, is now complete, and the second phase — including a music pavilion, fitness trails and a skate park — is now underway.

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