KIRO NEWSRADIO

From baseball games to assault, safety concerns grow at Rainier Playfields

May 3, 2024, 4:50 PM

Photo: Kids play a baseball game at Rainier Playfields in Seattle....

Kids play in a baseball game at Rainier Playfields in Seattle. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

On any given weekend, hundreds of people and families gather at the Rainier Playfields in the Rainier Valley, in Seattle, to enjoy Little League Baseball games or just a beautiful Pacific Northwest Day.

However, over the years parents have had to contend with more than just the other team. They have to deal with people drunk, high on drugs or harassing volunteers. Some have even been assaulted.

The Rainier District Little League  (RDLL), which sanctions most Little League games at the park, said harassment and assaults of volunteers working at the snack shack have become untenable.

‘Under the abundance of caution, the snack shack will open no earlier than 1 hour after the first game starts and close down no later than 1 hour before the last game ends. We don’t want any RDLL volunteers working solo setting up or closing down when there is not ample RDLL community members present,” RDLL President Craig Hanela said in an email to parents.

The park has long hosted RDLL games. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has acknowledged the importance of the park. Major League Baseball helped fund improvements to the baseball fields. A new basketball court was installed a few years ago and the tennis courts host regular tournaments.

Other local crime: 2 more burglary suspects accused of targeting Asian, East Indian owners arrested

It is a popular gathering place on most days and families gather here from sunup to sundown.

However, most parents we spoke with admit, there are problems.

“When you see someone doing questionable things off in the corner, you see smoke come out or you see them kind of huddled away toward the bathrooms, or the darker corners of the area, there’s reason to be concerned,” Parent Nate Woods said.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has increased patrols at the park, particularly in the evening and on the weekend, but the problems persist.

“I have been avoiding this park, even though it’s in front of my house and I have a kid, because there’s a lot of weird people, drunk or on drugs. I was there with my daughter and some drunk person was approaching us and staring at us, so we just left. Someone needs to do something,” Mother Aline Fernandez-Robinson said.

Some parents said SPD needs to do more to keep the bad elements out so good, positive, life-enriching things can continue to happen at the park without fear of being harassed or assaulted.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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From baseball games to assault, safety concerns grow at Rainier Playfields