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College Pt. park set to be rebuilt

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The vote was 34-0.

So far the city Department of Design and Construction has received $5.25 million in city and state funding to finish the design of the College Point Sports Park, the first of four phases expected to be finished by January or February 2001, said Edward Sidor, a spokesman for the agency overseeing the construction of the park. Other elected officials were also attempting to get funds for the first phase.

Despite the department's not having fleshed out the specifics of the three remaining phases, the project is expected to be bid on in February 2001, said Marilyn Bitterman, the district manager of the board. All told, she said, the construction should be finished by the Spring of 2002.

The city Department of Sanitation is cleaning out the 5 1/2 acre park, fenced in by Ulmer Street, 23rd Avenue and Linden Boulevard, a stone's throw away from the Flushing Airport. Sidor said the Sanitation is expected to complete the clearing by January or February, the same time the Design and Construction plans to submit its final design of the park.

According to preliminary designs, the Sports Complex will have two ballfields - one a full-size baseball field and the other exclusively for Little League - and a walkway that traverses them, said John T. Duda, an associate of Miceli, Kulik, Williams & Associates, the landscape and architecture planners assigned to the project. Bushes, trees and shrubs, he said, will be planted throughout the complex to lend a parklike feel to the grounds. Bleachers for both an existing roller hockey rink and the ballfields will also be built, he said.

"In the final analysis, this will be a state-of-the-art facility that the College Point community and all the residents can be proud of," said Tony Avella, the president of the College Point Sports Complex, in a phone interview. "This is something that everyone will be thrilled with and not something that we'll have to scrounge around to fund."

Although most of the questions asked and answered at the board meeting were anchored on the aesthetic judgment of the design, at least one civic leader expressed concern over where the children will play while the city develops the site. The ballfields were closed down by the city in the fall of 1997 amid questions about whether landfill used to fortify the fields was environmentally sound.

"This has been a complete disaster," said Sabina Cardali, the president of the College Point Taxpayers, in a brief statement she read at the meeting. "The children have not had any field to play on for four years."

On Oct. 30, 1997, a Department of Sanitation inspector found 15,000 cubic yards of illegally dumped construction and demolition debris in eight piles on the grounds. Although subsequent tests revealed the landfill was not toxic, an administrative judge upheld the Department of Sanitation's decision to close down the site.

Since then, children from the College Point Little League have been forced to play their games elsewhere in Queens. Up until May 15, 1998, the College Point Sports Complex paid a symbolic $1 to the Parks Department, a gesture that the city rebuffed. Now, the city owns the land, and the Parks Department has become the final arbiter on all park designs that are drawn up.

Community Board 7 covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace.

Apart from the College Point Sports Complex, the only other agenda item that drew some concern was the construction of a canopy over a diesel pump island in Whitestone, to stop fumes from wafting through the neighborhood. The board voted 30-5 to put off a vote on whether to require the owner of the station, at 10-02 Clintonville St., to erect the canopy.

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