By EMMA BARTLETT Mayflower Drive resident Robert Wilson, 47, enjoys taking his 10-year-old twins to Carberry Field on Beachmont Avenue to play on the baseball fields. However, when the family arrives, the fields are usually locked, causing Wilson to
Mayflower Drive resident Robert Wilson, 47, enjoys taking his 10-year-old twins to Carberry Field on Beachmont Avenue to play on the baseball fields. However, when the family arrives, the fields are usually locked, causing Wilson to lift his son and daughter over the fence so they can have fun running the bases or letting Wilson pitch balls to them.
“I have to hop over the fence, pick them up and lift them over; this sends the wrong message to children,” said Wilson.
Wilson grew up playing on Carberry Field and has lived in the same house since age two. As a longtime member of the Cranston community, he attended Chester W. Barrows Elementary School, Edgewood Highland Elementary School, Park View Middle School and Cranston High School East.
“When I was a child through when I was a teenager, we [Wilson and friends] would just be able to walk down to Carberry or Fay Field and play catch, home run derby, run the bases and just have fun and be kids,” Wilson wrote in an email interview.
Today, Cranston’s Little League fields have been locked to the public, even though they are on public property. The fields are usually unlocked during the off-season, but Wilson has found them locked during the winter months. He now advocates for unlocking fields.
“The most important part, I believe, is to promote healthy outdoor play and opportunity for children and families that would not have access to it otherwise. We all don't live on large properties and so access to these fields allows for the greater opportunity for kids to meet up with their friends and families to play,” Wilson said.
Because of the locked fields, Wilson has gone to other fields to play with his children.
“We are forced to go to Roger Williams Park or on occasion Park View, but the fields there are not fenced in and oftentimes there are multiple activities occurring on the field at the same time,” Wilson wrote.
Wilson said a few years ago he had coached a Little League team at Carberry Field, he would go more often with his kids because as a coach he had a key to the locks. Now that the fields are locked, he doesn’t usually go to Carberry Park.
But why exactly are the baseball league fields locked?
According to both Anthony Moretti, Chief of Staff of the Mayor’s office, and Raymond Tessaglia, Parks and Recreation Director, the town’s Little League fields are locked during the Little League season which runs from around April to late May. After that, all-star leagues start up in June and go until July. In Cranston, there are three Little Leagues including Cranston East Little League, Cranston Western Little League and CLCF Baseball.
“During the off seasons, they open up the gates to most of them,” Moretti said. “Those fields are locked during the season because people use it as a doggie park.”
Tessaglia added that in addition to dogs relieving themselves on the fields and their owners not picking up the waste, vandalism occurs and Little Leagues have had their home plate and bases stolen.
Tessaglia explained that maintenance crews arrive in the morning to prepare the fields for games that are later in the day. This work includes clearing trash and lining fields so they are ready to go when players arrive between 5 and 5:30 p.m. With people finding their ways onto the fields after completed maintenance work, Tessaglia said the fields are not pristine and not manicured for the Little League season.
Through fundraising efforts, Cranston’s Little Leagues also put a lot of their own time and money into the fields that they use, which is another reason the town allows them to keep the fields locked during the season.
The Herald was unable to make contact with John Croke, the Cranston East Little League President whose league uses Carberry Field.
After six months of noticing that the fields were locked, Wilson talked to City Wide Council Vice President Robert Ferri and eventually to Tessaglia and Moretti about the issue – who explained the reasons for the locked fields. Tessaglia gave Wilson a list of unlocked fields in Cranston and personally went to Carberry Field over a month ago to unlock the fields for Wilson. The gates were mysteriously locked shortly after and Tessaglia said he did not know who locked them.
Moretti mentioned that work is being done to determine which fields remain open and which will remain closed. Currently, the unlocked fields include: Cooney/Tate fields on Gansett Avenue, Park View Field, Diprete Field on Oaklawn Avenue, Sivo Park Western Hills on Phenix Avenue, Hope Highlands and Fay Field. This allows families the options to go to these open fields with their children and families.
There are also plans to redo four Little League fields to make them safer and more efficient for players. For instance, the little league fields on Whipple Street, Smith Street, and Lisi Field on Villa Avenue will be updated. For Lisi Field, the infield is prone to puddles and needs to be redone as well as increasing fencing for the area. Additionally, Sivo Park plans to have its home plate up and also install dugouts so the kids are safe.
Over Christmas, Ferri walked his three-year-old grandson down to the little league field on Sherman Avenue to play. The fields were locked.
“I was furious,” said Ferri.
Ferri said that aside from Wilson, he had received one other call concerning the fields being closed. Although he had heard from others about this problem, he had not experienced it himself.
“Some of the fields are treated like Fenway Park, and they just don’t want people on them. I kind of disagree with that. If you want to take your child there you should be able to,” Ferri said.
In addition to the locked fields, Wilson also inquired about Carberry Field’s basketball hoops, which have been in rough shape for some time. With only one court at the site, one basketball pole is missing a backboard while the hoop on the opposite end is crooked.
In an interview on Thursday, Tessaglia said the new high-standard basketball hoops arrived the day before after being backordered since August. Jaypro Sports, who supplied the new hoops, sent an apology letter recognizing the delay. They had an anticipated installation date of Dec. 31. As of Jan. 3, they have yet to be put in place. Tessaglia said that the Parks and Recreation Department takes advice and information from constituents in addition to staff visiting the parks and seeing what’s broken or what needs to be replaced.
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