1999-06-19 / Editorial/Opinion

Fighting The Empire

If the City of New York is Darth Vader, then Broad Channel is Luke Skywalker, the overmatched kid with the heart of gold who has "The Force" on his side.

The people of the Channel took on the City and forced it to allow them to purchase the land sitting under their own homes.

The people of the Channel took on the city and its agencies and forced the toll on the Cross Bay bridge to disappear.

The people of the Channel took on the city after the disastrous Mardi Gras Parade last year that resulted in the firing of three local city workers. Oh, well, even Darth Vader won sometimes.

Now, the Channel is preparing to take the city on one more time.

It seems as if the city, in the guise of the Parks Department, has its eyes on the athletic fields now used by the Broad Channel Athletic Club (BCAC).

It reportedly wants to take over the fields and force the BCAC to pay a fee to use it. In addition, it wants to take over the small food hut attached to the fields and force the BCAC to franchise it back and to pay fees on its income.

There are a number of reasons why this should not happen.

First and foremost, the BCAC serves the youth of the community and it serves them well. Its volunteers and fund-raisers serve at no fee. The money they raise all goes back to the kids in uniforms, equipment and in maintaining and upgrading the field. In the past few years the organization has added stands and lights to the once fallow field. There are few enough athletic fields left in our communities. There is no reason to share the money with a city bureaucracy.

One has to question the motives of the Parks Department in all of this.

It raises lots of questions. Why now? Why wait until the local folks turn an empty lot into a first-class kid’s athletic field to take it over?

Are the fingerprints of a vindictive Mayor all over this issue? Is he still bent on punishing the community for the stupid pranks of a few young men almost a year ago?

It is time for the local politicians to get involved in this issue. Al Stabile, the area’s City Council member, got 98 percent of the vote from Broad Channel in the last election. There is no doubt that he could stop the takeover with one phone call. The question is whether or not he will make that call. He walked away from the Channel in its time of need once before. Will he do so again?

It is also time for those local activists who assisted in getting the land and in ending the tolls to get active once again.

The Empire might strike back one more time, but the community, like Luke, with the help of local pols, should be able to win this one going away.

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