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Federal $$$ eyed for College Pt. ballfields

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In an effort to keep the city's plans to rebuild the long-dormant College Point Sports Complex on track, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced he has asked the federal government for $3 million in budget appropriations to add to the project's coffers.

Crowley made the announcement at a news conference outside the sports complex's 26th Avenue gate Monday afternoon with Sports Association President Tony Avella by his side.

"It's a big chunk of change to say the least," said Crowley of his $3 million request to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. "But I don't think it's undoable."

He noted he had a good relationship with the committee's chairman, C. W. Young.

Last spring $5 million was allocated in the mayor's 1999-2000 budget to begin a four-phase reconstruction of the 22-acre sports complex, which was closed in 1997 following a botched renovation and drainage project that left the site covered with debris.

With the first phase of reconstruction costing an estimated $8.3 million, however, Crowley and other local elected officials have said they would do their best to try and secure the remaining money.

More than 1,300 children from all over Queens once used the fields for baseball, soccer and football games.

Their closing left Little Leaguers scrambling to find game sites, forced a soccer club to cancel summer intramurals for 300 children and prompted a champion girls' soccer team to disband.

In mid-January, Crowley, along with state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilman Mike Abel (D-Bayside), mailed a joint letter to residents updating them on the city's plans for the sports complex.

The foursome wrote that the first phase of reconstruction, including the design and construction of two Little League fields, a new roller hockey rink, a main access road, perimeter fence and gates, lighting and landscaping, would cost approximately $8.3 million.

A spokesman for the city Department of Design and Construction, which will oversee the project, said ideally the debris would be completely removed from the sports complex by the fall, after which groundbreaking could occur.

The city Department of Sanitation is currently cleaning the site. Beginning in March, a private contractor will take over the job.

"With so few open spaces left in the city, we owe it to the people of College Point to restore the sports complex to its original condition," Crowley said.

Avella said it was important to utilize the College Point Sports Complex as soon as possible because there is no other space in Queens where the sports association teams could be permanently relocated.

"As soon as we build a Little League or soccer field, there's teams to play on it," Avella said. "There's really no 'elsewhere' to go in the borough."

Asked if arrangements had been made for fields for the baseball, soccer and football teams' 2000 seasons, Avella said it was decided at a meeting with the city Parks Department last week that College Point's Frank Golden and Herman MacNeil Parks would again be used.

Avella also said the sports association would be speaking with the various teams that already call those parks home to coordinate their schedules so the playing space is used more efficiently.

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