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Soccer enthusiasts demand lights at Forest Park during Community Board 9 meeting; Cannabis dispensary applications rejected

Dec. 21, 2023 By Anthony Medina

Advocates for additional lighting in Forest Park turned out in large numbers to plead their case at the Community Board 9 meeting Tuesday night, at the same time nearly a dozen cannabis dispensary applicants waited to see if their businesses would gain board approval.

More than 30 park advocates attended the meeting inside Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, on Dec. 19, in an effort to make the board aware of their struggle to obtain lighting in Forest Park.

Pablo Rubio, the executive director of Formativas Barcelona SC – NYC, spoke for the many supporters during the public forum portion of the board meeting and called for its assistance in his quest to illuminate the darkened Victory Field in Forest Park. He noted that he had set up temporary lights in the park in the past but was told that the city was likely to take them down.

Rubio explained that he paid for four tower lights costing upwards of $4,000 a month to provide lighting to Victory Field during soccer games. However, he said, residents in a nearby condo building complained that the power generators feeding electricity to the light towers were making too much noise. Once the complaints made their way to the NYC Parks, he noted, he was told his permit to use the field would be taken away if the lights continued to run.

Rubio said that the lights not only provide kids with an opportunity to play at night but also help with public safety. He said that he should be allowed to put up the lights.

“Now if you’re asking how is Forest Park or Victory Field safe? I asked you to take a stroll at night now. See how it is.
You will see on the tracks, on the rails, people doing drugs,” Rubio said.

Parents, children and supporters asking for more permanent lighting at Victory Field in Forest Park stands as one of their own speak to the board regarding their request. Photo by Anthony Medina

One man who opposed the lights attempted to interrupt Rubio during his remarks and kept yelling out incoherent statements. The man, who lived by the park and was the only person to speak out against them, told the board earlier that the generators caused too much noise.

One man shown here interrupts Rubio during his remarks at the public forum portion of CB9. Photo by Anthony Medina

The Community Board acknowledged Rubio and his fellow advocates’ request. Board Chair Sherry Algredo encouraged them to speak at the board’s next Parks Committee meeting, in order to provide more details as to their request, while allowing them to discuss the issue with city agencies.

Parents and members of the Queens youth soccer academy utilizing Victory Field in Forest Park talk to board members and the public on their issue after the meeting.Photo by Anthony Medina

Following a report from the newly-formed Cannabis Licenses Committee, the board voted to turn down all 12 applications for proposed legal adult-use cannabis dispensaries, citing issues with the placement of the potential legal storefronts.

The committee explained to the board how the appearance of illegal shops—and a lack of enforcement to punish businesses selling cannabis products illegally—has put it off greenlighting such businesses.

Committee Chair Regina Santoro said three new illegal dispensaries opened on Jamaica Avenue in the last week alone. Overall, there are 35 illegal shops in CB9’s district, and 19 between Lefferts and Woodhaven Boulevards, Santoro added.

Santoro clarified that the committee was not opposed to the sale of legal cannabis and would have supported some of the proposed legal sites, but the legislation around cannabis sales and regulations for legal sites remains unclear.

“We have to ask for regulations. We need the facts from the commission [The New York State Office of Cannabis Management] to get to us to be able to vote, just like the state liquor authority gives guidelines, we really truly guidelines.”

A little under half of the listed applicants appeared during the board meeting and soon after left after the board’s vote was shared. The board will meet again in January.

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