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Ball field under lock and key

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It’s being locked for its own protection.

After all, you wouldn’t want a cleat-clad soccer player ripping up your baseball field, would you?

That’s the logic behind the city Parks Department’s constant locking of the Manhattan Beach Park ball field – a move that’s left area civic leaders digging in their heels, demanding that the diamond be left open as often as possible.

Members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) claim that the ball field located off Oriental Boulevard and Coleridge Street is routinely locked on the weekends, making it difficult for future neighborhood sandlot stars to practice their way to the big leagues.

It may also hamper the MBNA’s odds in besting Brooklyn News 12 during a charity baseball game slated for September 7.

Concerns over the ball field’s constant closure were voiced at the group’s Monday meeting at P.S. 195 on Irwin Street, when Manhattan Beach Park and Recreation Manager Katy Rosa said that the ball field had been locked on occasion to stop un-permitted day camps from using it.

But the field, she said, isn’t closed as often as Association members believe, she said.

“It was closed for a few days in July when a day camp of 25 to 30 kids showed up and tried to use the park without a permit,” Rosa said. “An official group that big just can’t show up at the park and use the ball field without permission — it becomes a safety issue.”

The ball field was closed again when Rosa caught wind that another un-permitted summer camp – this time a soccer camp – was passing out fliers encouraging kids to show up there for lessons.

Soccer cleats would tear up the grass field, she explained.

Yet MBNA President Alan Ditchek, who brought his own children to the ball field recently only to find himself barred at the gates, said that the community shouldn’t be stopped from using their field of dreams because of a few malcontents.

“You can’t shut out everybody from the ball field just because some people misbehave and misuse it,” said Ditchek, adding that soccer cleats are about as dangerous to the ball field as baseball cleats, which are used by outfielders all the time. “Whether you’re throwing around a Frisbee or tossing a football, the ball field is for everyone to enjoy.”

Rosa assured Ditchek that the field would be kept open on the weekends. If the field is locked during the week and someone wants to use it, all they have to do is come to her office to have it opened, she said.

When our photographer went to the ball field this weekend, the gates were open.

But no one was playing baseball.

Instead, a young woman was in there, practicing some karate moves.

She was barefoot, our photographer said.

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