Rogue Dirt Bikers Get Playing Fields In A Fine Mess


Maintainance Costs, Safety Hazards Worry Rec Organizers

March 13, 1992|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,Staff writer

He emerged from the woods the other Saturday dressed all in yellow, from his dirt bike to the helmet on his head, and started for the gapin the left-field fence of one of the Lake Shore Youth Baseball League's diamonds.

Jim Tully and Jim LaMartina, the league president and maintenance director who were passing out equipment to coaches from a shack more than 100 yards away, started after the biker. The fields had been ripped up enough as it was by the roaring two-wheelers.

In fact, playing fields all over Pasadena have been ripped up enough by dirt bikes, pickup trucks and automobiles, recreation and school officials complain.

"It's one of my biggest problems," Collis Crankfield, northern district maintenance foreman for the county Department of Recreation and Parks, groused yesterday. "And it's roughest after each field has been prepared to have to go back and redo it."

The damage creates a safety problem for young athletes who could tear tendons or break bones tripping in the ruts left by dirt bikes, fretted Earl Eckhardt, head soccer coach at Chesapeake Bay High School on Mountain Road.

Tully and LaMartina never caught the biker in yellow. He started onto the field, then pivoted and roared off into thewoods.

"And then we heard all the others take off, too," Tully recounted.

But later that day, when the coaches were gone, the bikers came back, spinning across the muddy fields with their back wheels spraying muck in all directions and leaving long, looping ruts where young outfielders should be shagging flies in a few weeks.

"Every time they do this, we lose time in getting the fields ready and we have to take money from regular maintenance, like fixing these broken down fences, to redo the fields," Tully said. "It's really frustrating."

And Tully's not the only one frustrated.

"This has been going on for four or five years," griped Harry Calendar, principal at Chesapeake High. "You can't use the fields after that and you have to move everything onto other fields."

One field that was supposed to be for girls lacrosse and field hockey hasn't been used in 18 months, Eckhardt added.

"Now, we play all our games in the football stadium. It creates a real logjam," he said.

Crankfield figured that it costs between $1,500 and $2,000 to repair a damaged field. And if theoutfield, rather than the infield, has been ripped up, the price andtime to fix it increase because of the need for grass.

At Poplar Ridge Park, south of Fort Smallwood Road, an 18-foot-wide section of chain link has been torn from the fence in straight-away center field.

A path almost as wide has been worn in a steep hill that dives into a gully just behind the fence.

Tire tracks lead from the top of the hill into the gully and up to the fence line. They reappear a few yards away in a puddle that his been worn into the field.

"Theyuse that as a launching ramp," Crankfield explained.

Capt. Tom Shanahan, commander of the county police Eastern District, has told hisofficers to pay close attention to the athletic fields when they areon patrol. But police can't stay at the fields through entire shifts, he added.

Police officers have issued citations to dirt bikers for riding on county roads, a violation of motor vehicle regulations, and to those they catch riding on private property without permission.

But "the problem seems to be sporadic," the captain said.

Sporadic or not, Tully said he's fed up.

"We have over 600 kids we'retrying to provide something nice for, to keep them outta drugs, outta trouble. And have to contend with this. Jeez."

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