State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, has written a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to voice his opposition to recent budget line veto items that eliminated discretionary funding to several northeast Queens groups.
The senator also wants funding for several local organizations to be reallocated, including the Little Neck Soccer league, which is operated by the Little Neck Douglaston Youth Club.
The soccer league was one of several groups that Avella’s office had attempted to contact, but were unable to reach, to discuss funding, said Edward Fleming, a spokesman for Avella.
He also said that the league had received a $5,000 grant in the 2007 that was never used.
But Greg Roslonowski, vice president of soccer for the youth club, said he had not been contacted Avella’s office and that the league was in dire need of funding assistance.
“We’re an all-volunteer organization,” he said. “We haven’t gotten any funding for three years, so we’ve had to collect through fees. We haven’t been contacted about unused grants. We’ve cut back on our expenses and have not been able to put as much into the fields as we’d like to.”
Roslonowski said it costs an estimated $130,000 per year to run the soccer league and an additional $35,000 to $40,000 to operate the youth club’s baseball and softball leagues.
A total 800 local youths, ages 4 to 17, play in the soccer league, while another 250 are on baseball or softball teams.
In the past, the league has used discretionary funding to pay for equipment.
“We recognize we’re in difficult times and that a lot of people are struggling,” Roslonowski said. “We didn’t want to raise membership fees, but we had to.”
Parents are paying $10 more this year in fees for their children to play in the league.
Fleming listed several other groups in his district from which he would like to reallocate funding, including the Queens Federation of Teachers, Union Turnpike Merchants Association and the White Point Youth Football Association.
He said all of these groups had previously received grants they did not use and that they could not be reached.
The senator would like to get more money for a number of groups that he said will not get funding due to Cuomo’s veto items.
Those organizations include the Bayside Little League, Poppenhusen Institute, Bayside Historical Society, Dwarf Giraffe Little League, Harriet Kupferberg Holocaust Center and a number of local athletic associations.
Fleming said a total $35,000 has been allocated to northeast Queens groups that never used the funds.
In his letter to Cuomo, Avella wrote, “I completely disagree with your decision. This funding went to groups that need and rely on this money to survive… We should be helping these youth groups, senior centers, cultural organizations and little leagues that provide essential services.”