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Editorial: Field of broken dreams

It’s been a long time coming. After six years of legal dancing, Benjamin Rastelli, 47, of Whitestone, has pleaded guilty to dumping demolition debris, including glass, metal and plumbing fixtures, in what was supposed to be clean fill on the ball fields of College Point. When he is sentenced in June, he will begin a three-month jail sentence, which he will serve on weekends, and he will pay $250,000 in restitution.

This isn’t justice. Rastelli and his Flushing-based company, Enviro-Fill, Inc. have done tremendous damage. The ball fields in College Point have been padlocked for more than six years and they will not be ready for this season. The College Point Little League once served nearly 1,500 children. Enrollment dropped to as low as 242. They will play on shoddy, borrowed fields. The adult and children's soccer leagues have been destroyed.

So many children and their families have been deprived because of the greed of Rastelli and his partners. It will cost millions to recreate the sports complex. The $250,000 is barely a down payment. Worse yet, the damage done by Enviro-Fill has been exacerbated by an unresponsive city bureaucracy that continues to drag its heels.

Children’s sports are an important part of the quality of life in any community. We have run a number of stories about the grand plans for the new sports complex. Now we hope we weren’t just pumping air up the College Point skirt. There’s no reason why the city cannot make a firm commitment to reopen these fields before another season goes down the drain.

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