Reopen NY: Officials urge New York City to issue youth sports permits

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As coronavirus pandemic restrictions continue, some frustrated parents are hoping officials ease up on the lockdown of athletic fields.

New York City's Parks Department said it won't issue permits for public fields or ballparks because of safety concerns, but now families are teaming up with coaches and politicians to fight back -- and give children an outdoor space to play.

Kids and parents were in Bay Ridge with signs reading "Let us play ball" and "Don't take our sports away."

"It is mind-boggling, illogical, arbitrary, and unfair," New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes said.

New York Congressman Max Rose showed his frustrations as well.

"Issue the damn permits," Rose said. "Issue them already. Let kids enjoy their lives. They've been through enough."

City Councilman Justin Brannan said the kids need "some sense of normalcy this fall."

"Allow them to play group sports organized," Brannan said. "It's better for public policy health and for all if it's in an organized league."

Permit advocates say kids are out there playing all over the place -- just miles away -- which is unfair for city kids, and that this also has to do with small businesses and making sure these leagues stick around for years and years.

"You can go 18 miles from this location to Nassau County, for example, and you will see kids can play outdoor sports," Gounardes said.

City Councilman Brad Lander said that the city has to remember these leagues are non-profits and small businesses.

"They can't survive if they don't have a season this fall," he said.

NYC Parks responded in a statement.

"Our fields remain open for first-come, first-serve, socially-distanced play. We will reassess our ability to issue permits later in the fall."

One coach insists they need permits to use fields, otherwise groups of men know they can kick them off.

"They come over, start trying to bully us off the field, saying they're going to hit the kids with balls," Brooklyn Football Club Coach Jesse DeLorenzo said. "This is what we can expect."

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