Oh oh, there’s another mound problem; at Pier 40


By Lincoln Anderson and Aman Singh

It seems mounds and the Village area always amount to controversy. The three play mounds — small climbing hills for young children — in Washington Sq. Park have been the focus of a pitched battle between local parent groups who want to keep and renovate them and the Parks Department, which is not keen on them and reportedly views them as a liability issue, possibly because of use by skateboarders.

Now a new mound dilemma has erupted over the movable pitching mound being used for baseball on the new Pier 40 courtyard FieldTurf sports field. The mound was used last Thursday for a scrimmage between Stuyvesant and Xavier.

Because the field is multiuse for multiple sports there cannot be a permanent mound as it would limit the flexibility of the field’s use.

Vincent Rotolo, director of the baseball program for P3, the group that runs youth sports programs on the pier, and also training coordinator for the Greenwich Village Little League, said P3 and G.V.L.L. worked with the Hudson River Park Trust to insure that the Trust bought a movable, artificial turf-covered mound that is state of the art. Older-model portable mounds are too steep on the nonpitching sides, but the new model is better configured so that pitchers won’t injure themselves if they need to throw to the bases, Rotolo said.

But the Public School Athletic League won’t allow its games to be played with movable mounds, said Rotolo. However, the coach argues that with the new mounds — one of which, he said, is being used for official high school games only 3 miles away in Hoboken — P.S.A.L. games should be allowed on the pier. Rotolo said the P.S.A.L. policy is outdated, from the 1970s when movable mounds first appeared. Yet, when they met with Bob Purchase, a P.S.A.L. official, he told them it was a no-go.

Stuyvesant has no home field, though it sometimes uses the Murry Bergtraum field, and, Rotolo said, the high school would like to use the pier field for games. Ironically, private schools — which can afford better equipment and facilities — can schedule games on the pier, Rotolo noted. Meanwhile, Stuyvesant (7-1) doesn’t even have a team van and players take the subway to games, he said.

“This is a big deal to me personally — I want to see P.S.A.L. games at Pier 40,” said Rotolo, who is also the Stuyvesant J.V. baseball coach. A Greenwich Village native, Rotolo, 32, has a 12-year-old son, Justin, who is a lefty pitcher and Rotolo hopes to one day see him play league games on the Hudson River pier at the end of W. Houston St.

Two of the P.S.A.L.’s three sports coordinators, Adam Boxer and Lance Hermus, told The Villager they were not familiar with the portable mound issue at Pier 40. Margie Feinberg, a Department of Education spokesperson, hazarded a guess that this had “something to do with baseball,” then added, “Our students don’t play there because it is not our property. How can I say anything about land that is not ours? Our students don’t play in any stadium or park. They play in the schools’ parks.” Donald Douglas, P.S.A.L. director, declined to comment, referring questions to Feinberg.

But Rotolo isn’t giving up his quest for respect for the mound and to have P.S.A.L. games at Pier 40.

“P3 got the field to happen, but we’re not stopping now,” he said.