2001-09-01 / Front Page

Channel Kids Set To Get Land

Channel Kids Set To Get Land

By Howard Schwach

"After years of hard work, negotiations and legal maneuvering, the city has finally agreed to sell the Broad Channel Athletic Club (BCAC) the field that the club has been using as its home for more than 40 years," Margaret Wagner, the president of the organization, told The Wave this week.

While the organization has not yet closed in the land, which consists of the field itself and a portion of the parking lot adjacent to the field, the organization believes that the survey that is now being completed will clarify its negotiations with the city and allow the closing to be completed in the near future.

The agreement with the city ends a long period of controversy within the Broad Channel community over the use of the land.

The controversy developed when the local church, St. Virgilius, proposed to sell a portion of the land to the Knights of Columbus for use as a meeting hall. The deal was to sell the land to the organization for $20 thousand at the rate of $1 thousand a year for 20 years. That outraged many in the community who believed that the land belonged to the kids and that it was being "given away" by the church to their detriment.

The community quickly split into two camps, with the BCAC and its 1,000 members on one side and the church and the K of C on the other.

An official of the BCAC who declined to be identified told The Wave that those in favor of selling the land to the K of C often used scare tactics to insure that the community would come down on that side of the issue.

"Prominent community activists were telling everybody that the BCAC could not afford the land, that it would cost $3 or $3.50 a square foot," the official said. "They said that if the community did not work out a deal with the K of C, the land would go to public auction."

The BCAC will now get the land for fifty-six cents a square foot, according to Wagner. No date has been set for the final closing, however.

The BCAC was incorporated in 1961. It sponsors more than 1,000 children in baseball, softball, football, cheerleading, soccer, hockey and basketball.

According to Wagner, many of those events take place at Memorial Field, on the land about to be purchased from the city.

"We had to overcome many obstacles," Wagner says. "In the last few years, we have spent more than $25 thousand in legal fees, negotiations and survey costs, just to get where we are today."

"The bottom line," she adds, " is that the kids won. They will keep their field."

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