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Leader of local youth soccer organization hopes to get more lighting added to Forest Park in Woodhaven

Dec. 12, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

The head of a Queens youth soccer academy is attempting to get stadium lights installed at Victory Field in Forest Park, having collected approximately 400 signatures through an online petition over the span of about two weeks.

Pablo Rubio, the executive director of Formativas Barcelona SC – NYC, said the lights would allow kids to play sport at Victory Field much longer each day, and would be good for the Woodhaven community as a whole.

Rubio argues that the addition of lights would not just allow the kids at Formativas Barcelona SC – NYC to get more game time but would also be a boon to active residents.

Additionally, the lights would help prevent crime, he said, since it would reduce illegal activity that often takes place in the darkness of the park. He also said that the lights would help the city maintain the park.

In the petition, a study by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is cited. According to the NRPA, crime is reduced 20% in parks that are well-maintained. Another study mentioned in the petition, by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, concluded that access to recreational spaces reduces stress levels and promotes physical activity for residents.

Rubio and many other members of the soccer program will be attending the upcoming Queens Community Board 9 meeting scheduled for Dec. 19 at Queens Borough Hall. He intends to show the board his petition and hopes to get their support for new light installations at Victory Field.

The soccer program has long held practices at Victory Field. According to Rubio, his organization had rented two light towers in order to play at night.

However, residents of the co-op across the street from the field filed noise complaints caused by the light towers. This led to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation calling Formativas Barcelona SC -NYC and telling them they would need to stop using these lights or risk losing their field permits.

Rubio has made this petition multiple other times and attempted to get local lawmakers to take action on the matter. However, according to Rubio, the co-op residents objected to the petition, succeeding in blocking it. Still, Rubio is hopeful things go differently at this week’s community board meeting.

The organization intends to reach out to the office of Council Member Joann Ariola to try and get her support on the matter. Victory Field is located within her district.

“The support from local authorities hasn’t been what we expected, especially for the type of work that we are doing,” Rubio said, who hopes to get more buy-in from local officials this time. “We have a lot of kids who come in and use the park and use our services free of charge. We have several kids from the shelters who are taking advantage of this. The more kids whose lives we can touch, the more kids are out of trouble.”

There currently is not any park within District 9 of Queens that has these lights. Rubio feels this needs to change, especially as soccer grows in popularity among the diverse population of Queens.

“When we were using the [light towers], a lot of people were getting benefits from it,” Rubio said. “You would see people running on the tracks, people walking their dogs and kids playing. The park went back to life. Now, when you pass by there, all you smell is marijuana, and you see people lighting up fires by the tracks. It’s not safe.”

A member of Community Board 9 recommended Rubio attempt to reach out to them in order to arrange for him to discuss the situation with the parks committee before the day of the meeting.

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