Broad Channel Park Bounces Back

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 Officially open or not, the loud roar of cheers and youngsters playing basketball have clearly announced that not only is Broad Channel Park back after renovations, but so is the Broad Channel’s BCAC Shamrock Summer Shootout!

Known locally as 17th Road Park, and covering half the block between East 16th and 18th Roads along Cross Bay Blvd, the park has been a work in progress since extensive renovations began in July 2021. For most of the year, including all of last summer, it has been shrouded in construction fencing and inhabited by compact heavy equipment.

With its entire central portion and one basketball court shut off for complete repaving, only its handball and tennis courts remained opened from outside. Its sole basketball court stood without nets for most of the year. The adjacent playground remained open.

Now, “we’re excited to share that construction on this project is proceeding on time,” said NYC Parks Press Officer Dan Kastanis, “and the entire (park) will be opened to the community next month.”

“In response to community concerns, we’ve done a phased opening on this project; the flagpole plaza was opened early on June 13 to accommodate the Flag Day ceremony.”

Since then, large swaths of the park have been opened and work is proceeding along its outer edges. The $2.25 million project includes ripping up all its old walkways, benches, fountains, curbing and water and drainage coverings. With surfaces leveled from the ground up, old hexagonal pavers were replaced with light color hand-laid and often hand-cut brick ones. Walkways have been re-curbed, the sinking central memorial flagpole base has been redone and new steel drain gratings are in place.

There are also new benches, two new water fountains with bottle-filling features and new waste receptacles. New gaming tables are on the boards and the entire park has been abundantly replanted with new trees, bushes and plants.

 “We have experienced some supply chain issues impacting our procurement for some products, including the basketball hardware,” Kastanis noted. “We still expect to complete this project on time in July. We have been in regular communication with the Broad Channel Civic Association, and the Broad Channel Athletic Club on the progress of the work.”

The opening of the basketball courts and majority of the park could not have come a moment too soon for the BCAC’s Shamrock Summer Shootout.

“The major setback that we had with the park being renovated was we were running most of our league off one court,” said Pat Palmese, a head coach and division coordinator with the program. “We hoped it would have been done a few weeks earlier. However, the park is coming out beautiful and we are all very grateful and happy about that.”

The current program, started in 2017 by BCAC’s Marty Feeney and others, lost one summer in 2020, due to Covid.

Starting on June 13, they now have over 550 children ages 4 and up playing, with boys’ and girls’ divisions like Tykes (ages 4-6), Peanuts (7-8), Rascal (9-10), Junior (11-12) and Senior (13–14).

“We’ve expanded over the years from Broad Channel, Rockaway, Howard Beach and even northern Queens,” Palmese noted, with previous years having youngsters coming from all five-boroughs, even Westchester, with up to 25 games scheduled weekly. They also boast some three-dozen local sponsors.

With approximately 20 volunteers to help run it, “Every year we stress that we want to be a fun and friendly league. We want the children to learn the game of basketball, get exercise and build relationships with other kids,” Palmese said.

With whistles blowing, the thrill of the game, the excitement of players and cheering family and friends, the BCAC Shamrock Summer Shootout is a good sign that Broad Channel Park is on its way back for years of play to come.

By Dan Guarino
Photos by Dan Guarino

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