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After cleanup, ballfields in College Point renovated

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Tony Avella, president of the College Point Sports Association, said Monday construction began this week on the 22-acre ballfields that have been closed for nearly five years after subgrade landfill was dumped there.

Avella, who was joined by state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) at the ballfields Monday, said the city Department of Sanitation had finished removing the inferior landfill that had been trucked in illegally to level the ballfields. Three Queens brothers who run carting companies have been charged by the Queens district attorney in connection with the dumping.

Various elected officials, including city, state and federal, have secured funding in their budgets to push the project forward, Avella said. For the first phase, the mayor’s office has appropriated $5 million, to be used for leveling the fields, installing sewers and pipes, and stringing electrical lines.

The second part of the project, overseen by the city Department of Design and Construction, will involve the construction of two ballfields and a roller-hockey rink, Avella said.

For this aspect, he said, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) has secured $250,000 in funding, Mayersohn $250,000, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) $100,000 in federal funds. He also said Councilman Michael Abel (R-Bayside) told him the City Council had budgeted $500,000.

Signs of construction are evident in the fences that have been erected around the perimeter of the 10 acres or so of the ballfields on which they are working. One of the most arduous tasks has been the removal of the subgrade landfill — a motley mix of pipes, concrete, reinforcement bars and general demolition debris — that had been brought in to raise the elevation of the ballfields, near Ulmer Street and 26th Avenue in College Point.

Since inspectors ordered the closure of the fields in 1997, hundreds of children have been forced to play baseball, football and soccer in parks elsewhere in Queens. City officials said the cost to remove the 210,000 tons of landfill could run as high as $10 million.

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