Sale of Glen Cove soccer field scuttled

A sign outside the Ernest J. Pascucci Memorial A sign outside the Ernest J. Pascucci Memorial Soccer Field closes it to the public; the field is open when games are being played. (July 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Rebecca Shinners

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Glen Cove's plan to sell a soccer field to a developer is dead after strong public opposition pressured the City Council and Mayor Ralph Suozzi to postpone a vote on the deal.

The sale of the Ernest J. Pascucci Memorial Soccer Field for $2.1 million was going to pay for a new field, but even without a funding source the city is continuing to study a site where the field could be built, city officials said this week. Suozzi, who faced a barrage of criticism at a standing room only council meeting last week, said he told the interested buyer, Virginia-based Artis Senior Living LLC, that he would help it look for another site to build a residential center for people with dementia.

"It will not be back on the agenda," Suozzi said. "The people who spoke are really attached historically and emotionally [to the field] . . . there's no reason to sell it now."

Opponents of the sale hailed Suozzi's canceling it and the possibility of greater involvement in its future.

"He's going to listen to different people and see what they want -- people involved in soccer -- the ones that he forgot to contact before," Marco Malusa, 79, who has been a part of Glen Cove's soccer scene since starting an adult soccer club 60 years ago, said Wednesday. "The main thing is going to try to keep the field going on because it is very important."

The city's move to sell the field surprised many soccer fans, and Suozzi acknowledged that he needed to get the soccer community involved earlier in the process.

John Thelian, president of AC Glen Cove, an adult soccer club that uses the field, favors preserving it but said in an email it needs work. "The next step would be to fix the field," he said.

The field has seen better days since it was dedicated to the late Pascucci, a longtime commissioner of public works and City Council member, in 1989. The field of green grass is uneven -- which those who play on it say is a product of overuse. But Darcy Belyea, Glen Cove parks and recreation director, said the problem is it was built on a landfill, making upkeep difficult.

"It doesn't drain well," she said. "It's very difficult to keep plush and lush."

Last year, the city spent an estimated $38,000 on the operation and maintenance of the field, according to the city parks and recreation department.

"The soccer players and the local clubs, they feel it needs a major overhaul," Belyea said. "We don't have the funds for that."

For now, the city plans to maintain Pascucci field, but future proposals for the site, whether they preserve the field, will be considered, Belyea said.

Thelian said a landscaping company had offered to fix the field at its own expense, saving the city money. Belyea said the city would consider such offers, but a company would need to be qualified to do that kind of work.

Meanwhile, the city is going ahead with preliminary work for a future artificial turf field at a compost yard next to the John Maccarone Memorial Stadium, despite a lack of funding to build it. Amityville-based LandTek Group Inc. on Tuesday did surveying and soil compaction tests, Belyea said.

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