A College Point football coach is demanding answers from the New York City Parks Department on delayed construction of a football field that was scheduled to be completed this year.
In 2016, Richard Fabrizi petitioned the city to build a football field at the 22-acre College Point sports complex located between 130th and Ulmer Street, between 23rd and 26th Avenues, which includes a soccer field and hockey ring.
The Whitepoint Youth Football and Cheer organization, which serves over 400 families teaching football to children ages 5-14, currently splits their league with two fields to accommodate families and would like a football field of their own, Fabrizi said.
“We share playing time with soccer leagues, men’s recreational softball, and little league baseball,” said Fabrizi. “The Memorial Field in Flushing is broken down and has become dangerous to the children, due to holes in the field, flooding, rocks, and adults smoking marijuana by the handball courts.”
When the Parks Department had approved the capital project in 2016 to construct the football field with allocated funding from City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Borough President Melinda Katz, Fabrizi finally thought the dream of having their own football field was coming to fruition.
However, two years later, the project is still in design phase with no word from the Parks Department, Fabrizi said.
According to the New York City Capital Project Tracker, construction of the $15 million football field was slated to begin in September 2016 with projected completion in January 2018.
“Our families deserve answers. We have become worried that the kids will get hurt, twisting their ankles, or getting hit in the head by grown men playing softball,” said Fabrizi. “All we want is the city to fulfill the dreams of these kids by giving them a place to call home.”
The organization has flag football in the spring and tackle football in the fall, as well as many football, cheer and conditioning programs throughout the year.
According to Fabrizi, they have to carry equipment and materials with added expenses due to splitting time between both fields. During the fall, the kids play at the College Point field since Flushing Memorial Field doesn’t have lights.
Last month, Fabrizi had reached out to Alfredo Centola, founder and vice president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association for support.
“The people of WhitePoint started to get concerned because they noticed there was no construction going on out there, and they started reaching out getting no responses,” said Centola, who has also contacted the Parks Department and local elected officials.
According to Fabrizi, he’s attended about 15 meetings throughout the process of getting a football field in College Point.
“Everything was going great and sounded great. We had a big party when we were told we being approved for the field,” said Fabrizi. “There’s no football fields in Northeast Queens.”
Fabrizi said he hopes to one day host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the kids in their new football field.
“If Parks is having a problem or having issues, just be honest,” said Fabrizi. “I can’t keep telling these 400 parents that Parks isn’t answering…they’re not being responsive.”
In response to the stalled project, the Parks Department said they expect the design to be completed next month, pending permit approvals.
“During the design of the third phase of renovations to College Point Fields, Parks determined that we needed to hire a consultant engineer which has resulted in some unexpected delays,” a spokeswoman said. “This is a challenging site to build on; it is a former landfill which is located within a NYS DEC Freshwater Wetland Zone.
The Parks Department added, “Consideration of saturated soil, soil settling, and the location in proximity to wetlands are essential for understanding any design solution. While we regret the delays, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the design is successful in keeping the fields free of settlement issues.”