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Ferry Point Park turning into pigsty

Bronx Times

A major stretch of Ferry Point Park is turning into a pig sty.

With about 5,000 visitors on a warm weekend day, locals and players say that with no permanent bathrooms and little running water, summer soccer leagues are overwhelming the parks’ resources.

They charge that while many are using the bushes to urinate and defecate, parkgoers are also leaving behind piles of garbage and illegally selling beer and liquor.

About six leagues play soccer every weekend during spring and summer, but only one league at a time can use a synthetic soccer field near the Whitestone Bridge toll plaza, said Dotti Poggi of Friends of Ferry Point Park.

Barbara Lopez of the Liga Hounduras Unidos which plays every Sunday on the synthetic field, and a spokesman for a Saturday league, Hondul Copa Houndras, both said they have permits to play on the field. Lopez said her league’s permit cost about $4,800, but the field has no running water and no nearby bathrooms.

“There are no toilets” Lopez said. “We are constantly getting tickets because there are people who have to go to the bathroom - who have emergencies - that end up going in the bushes.”

Sprinklers alongside the field to cool the turf material - and players - are not functioning, meaning neither the field nor the players can remain cool during a day which typically runs from about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Lopez said.

The league has tried to rent Port-o-Sans and get a cleaning crew to clean up on Sunday evenings, but it’s cost prohibitive or not very feasible, she said.

South of the synthetic field, next to the Whitestone Bridge, there are about seven “fields” - former baseball diamonds - scattered around the park, Poggi said. A visit to the park June 10 found garbage strewn on much of the grassy area, and three Port-o-Sans the only working bathroom facilities in the area.

Poggi said she has seen vendors selling beer and other alcohol, in the city park, as well as high-stakes gambling on the soccer games, and even three roulette tables set up.

A planned comfort station has been delayed, with construction set to start mid-summer, with completion next year, according to the Parks Department website.

Parks officials did not respond for comment on the deteriorating park situation.

“The bathroom is obviously a problem,” Poggi said. “We have a very small wooden area, and 5,000 people are all squashed in a little area that they are using as a bathroom.”

Police have conducted five crackdowns over the past two years, she said, and police confirmed, seizing alcohol and issuing summonses or making arrests for selling booze.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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