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LITTLE LEAGUE CLUBHOUSE FIRE IS RULED ARSON

A weekend fire that destroyed the kitchen area and refreshment stand of the Scajaquada Little League clubhouse at 715 1/2 Walden Ave. was arson, city fire officials said Sunday.

Rubbish on the exterior deck of the clubhouse was deliberately set on fire, officials said. The blaze, which left a gaping hole in the one-story building, was called in at 11:40 p.m. Saturday.

The clubhouse, off Bakos Boulevard and close to the Cheektowaga town line, "has been here about 15 years," Stanley Stepniak, a past president and longtime board member of the Scajaquada Little League, noted Sunday.

"We've had problems off and on," he said, "but this is the first time anything like this has ever happened."

Fire officials listed damage at $5,000 to the building and $1,000 to its contents. But Stepniak and fellow league organizer Bob Ziolkowski said they believe repairs, in terms of labor, may cost more.

"We put the kitchen in ourselves, and it's completely wrecked," Stepniak said. "Part of the roof is gone, and we'll have to replace that too. We'll also have to secure the place in the meantime."

The structure, a former portable schoolhouse donated to the league by the city, stands behind the Walden Heights housing development and is adjacent to eight baseball diamonds used by the league.

"Our league has been on the decline, and we're in the process of reorganization," Stepniak said.

Parents and others interested in the future of the league -- and of its damaged clubhouse -- are invited to a meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Schiller Park Senior Center, 2057 Genesee St.

A vote on whether to rename the league the New Scajaquada Little League will be taken, Stepniak said.

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