2008-01-18 / Front Page

BCAC Punts Legion, Keeps CBB Property

AState Supreme Court Judge has ruled that the Broad Channel American Legion Post has no claim on the land abutting its present hall on Cross Bay Boulevard, clearing the way for the Broad Channel Athletic Club (BCAC) to continue to utilize the land for parking and, perhaps, sometime in the future, for a teen recreation center.

"The American Legion Post's insistence that the BCAC was not entitled to purchase the disputed property because both St. Virgilius [Church] and BCAC simultaneously held leasehold rights to the same is without merit," Judge Phyllis Orlikoff Flug said in a recent ruling. "There is nothing in the law that negates one's leasehold rights to any property merely because another holds the leasehold rights to the same property. Moreover, even if BCAC's lease was void, it is undisputed that BCAC occupied the disputed property, thus making it a potential purchaser under the [1995] act. [The Legion's] argument that BCAC did not exclusively occupy the disputed property and was therefore not eligible to purchase the land is also without merit. Therefore, the court is without authority to compel the city to convey the disputed property to the [American Legion Post].

"Accordingly," the order says, "the [Legion's] motion is denied and [its] complaint is hereby dismissed."

The suit by American Legion Post 1404 in Broad Channel began in December of 2005, when it sued both the BCAC and the City of New York, asking to recover a 30-by-100-foot piece of land that abuts the northern wall of the Post's present Broad Channel Post Headquarters, located at 209 Cross Bay Boulevard.

The suit alleged that the city promised to sell the land to the Legion post and then reneged by turning the land over to the BCAC in August of 2002.

It also argued that the city had no right to sell the land to the BCAC because it was owned by the St. Virgilius Parish.

Both the American Legion and the BCAC moved for summary judgment, a move that was granted by Judge Flug on behalf of the BCAC.

An official from the BCAC told The Wave this week that the suit cost the sports organization, which involved hundreds of local kids in sports events during the year, $32,000 for what she termed a "frivolous lawsuit."

"Before the lawsuit was filed by the Legion, we had plans to redo the football field and to build a teen center on the land. The money for those projects went to fight the lawsuit and now we cannot even think about either of those things," said Margaret Wagner, a former BCAC president. "The Legion members who voted to sue the BCAC should be ashamed of themselves. They want to walk around town and make believe that they didn't hurt our kids, but they are only fooling themselves. The $32,000 is a very big hit for a non-profit organization to handle."

Charlie Ledogar, a long-time BCAC official who is also a member of the American Legion, agrees.

Ledogar, who has lived in Broad Channel for nearly 60 years, told The Wave this week that he is glad the battle is over and the kids have won.

"The good news is that the suit is over and I hope that the Legion doesn't appeal and cost the BCAC even more money," Ledogar said. "The bad news is that we are pretty well broke now, and we had to cut back some athletic programs and any thought of a teen center. I can't understand what this was all about because it seems to be all about parking and that doesn't make any sense.

"We're all related here, one way or another," he added. "We shouldn't be fighting each other."

Stephen Holihan, the attorney for the American Legion Post, was not available for comment this week.

In September of last year, however, he told The Wave, "Neither the Legion nor I care to comment on the suit at this time. We'll let whatever the court decides stand as our comment."

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