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Black Cowboys reach deal for barn in Howard Beach

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City officials and The Federation of Black Cowboys struck a deal last week to save the Howard Beach organization's barn by designing a monthly payment schedule whereby the group could meet its financial obligations.

The Department of Parks and Recreation met with federation President Edward Dixon and his attorneys to resolve the findings of a city audit that revealed the organization owed $23,000 in back fees to the city, plus additional fines and penalties that brought the total to $60,000, Dixon said.

"We came to an agreement with the Parks Department where they gave us extended time to pay off the debts," Dixon said of the organization, headquartered at 83-11 South Conduit Ave. "We will pay the balance that we owe them."

The federation will pay the city Parks Department in monthly installments, he said.

Federation Assistant Treasurer Don Rouse was unable to give specific figures on the deal with the city, but he said his organization was granted an extension to pay back its debts for a figure less than the $60,000 established in the city audit.

"Everything worked out," Rouse said. "But we're still in the process of collecting funds, we still need more money."

Parks spokesman Eric Adolfsen said the back payment issue had been solved by making a concrete timetable which the federation agreed to follow. He said the federation will pay the city over the course of the next year.

"We're pleased that an agreement has been reached and that The Federation of Black Cowboys will continue to provide valuable programs to New Yorkers," Adolfsen said.

The Black Cowboys, a non-profit corporation that promotes the history of black American cowboys during the western expansion of the United States, has leased a barn since 1997 that houses 40 horses for its 35 members, Dixon said.

Since then it has fixed up the barn, repaired on-site buildings, landscaped and installed new fencing and gates to allow local schoolchildren to come for field trips and to learn how to care for horses, Dixon said. The site includes stables, a ring where people can ride the horses and several other offices.

The Federation of Black Cowboys exists to educate the local community and its children about the contributions of men and women during the development of the West after the Civil War, according to the cowboys' Web site. Dixon said the organization operates several outreach programs with local schools that teach children respect, patience and courtesy through horsemanship.

Dixon said the federation's deal with the city came just in time and saved a group that has played an active role in shaping the surrounding community.

"We're going to go ahead with business as usual," Dixon said. "We couldn't afford to lose this place. Losing it would be like losing everything."

Rouse said those interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the federation should call them at 1-718-925-0180.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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