After pitching a court battle to try to win back access to a field they have played on for more than two decades, the Queens Falcons youth football organization has been handed a difficult defeat in Middle Village.
Queens Supreme Court Judge Lawrence Cullen granted the city Parks Department’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit Oct. 28 demanding the agency allow the Falcons access to the grass field between two baseball diamonds at Juniper Valley Park. The ruling effectively ended the group’s fight to continue using the field near the banners honoring former Coach Stephen Hoffman, who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Falcons’ six teams are now barred from playing on the grass field, although they may still play their league games Sunday mornings on the turf fields to the west.
Parks Department officials said the team applied for three field-use permits, none for the grass field at Juniper Park, but the Falcons denied this.
“It’s just a shame,” said Falcons Coach Tim Cavanaugh. “They basically said we never filed a permit after 23 years of filing the same permit.”
Parks officials have also said they are working to discourage football teams from using natural grass fields citywide because of the wear and tear they cause.
“The Queens Falcons have been provided with three state-of-the-art fields, including Brennan Field at Juniper Valley Park,” a Parks spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “We cannot expect our youth to play football on ballfield outfields when football fields are available and can exceed the needs of the organization.”
The team’s other games will be played at Victory Field in Woodhaven and at Mafera Park in Ridgewood, but Cavanaugh has said this creates a number of logistical problems for families with children on multiple teams playing at different locations and for organizers who have no place to store their equipment.
Rumors swirled following the ejection of players from the park this summer. Some said the decision was made after a Middle Village resident called the Parks Department to complain about a double-parked car belonging to the parent of one of the players.
Parks Department officials previously said they were willing to work with the league to work out the permit issue. It was unclear what had changed.
“I think there’s more to it,” Cavanaugh said. “I think there’s other powers that be that did not want us on that field.”
He declined to comment further.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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