BC Gets ‘Field Of Dreams’
By Howard Schwach
After an often contentious fight that split the Broad Channel community down the middle, the Broad Channel Athletic Club (BCAC) has told The Wave that it has closed on the athletic field and parking lot that form the club’s major sport’s facility for local kids.
"The children of Broad Channel have finally won," said Margaret Wagner, president of the BCAC. "There were people who did not believe that we were for the children all along, but I really wanted to see my grandchildren play on this field."
The controversy began when the Pastor of St. Virgilius Church turned over the rights to the land (which was owned by the city) to a Brooklyn chapter of the Knights of Columbus for a new clubhouse.
Parents of the hundreds of children who had been playing on a field built by the BCAC on that site complained and eventually got the city to stop the transfer of the land to the K of C.
A number of lawsuits and lots of acrimony ensued until the city decided in favor of the youth organization. The Knights of Columbus sued the city, but recently lost its court case.
"The issue really divided the town," Wagner says now, "but it was worth it. The children got their field."
The purchase includes the present ball field and the parking lot. In total, there are 69,000 square feet in the purchase and the organization paid at total of $40,685 for the land.
The church had originally agreed to transfer the land to the K of C for $20 thousand paid over 20 years.
Some community activists who favored the sale to the K of C had predicted that the land would cost the BCAC more than $350 thousand, more than they could ever hope to pay, but Wagner says that hard negotiating brought the cost within reason.
"Our BCAC Land Commissioners, Charley Ledogar and Ed O’Hare did a great job in negotiating with the city’s Department of Administrative Services," Wagner says. "Al Stabile and Joann Ariola helped us as well when Stabile was our city councilman."
The organization now hopes to build a second story on the building that now serves as its combination concession stand and meeting room.
"This was all about kids," Wagner adds. "And, the kids won."