From the Daily News:
A Queens lawmaker is in talks with the city to create a public-private alliance to fund the upkeep of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said such an alliance could solicit donations from Queens residents and businesses for the borough’s 1,255-acre, flagship park.
It could also eventually seek a cut of the rent paid to the city by Citi Field and the U.S. Tennis Association, which are located in the park, she said.
“Flushing Meadows-Corona Park has not received the attention and resources it deserves,” Ferreras told the Daily News on Wednesday. “We get such a small percentage of the dollars that are generated by our park reinvested into our park.”
Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, said if an alliance profits from the stadiums located within its perimeters, this could create an incentive to rent out more parkland to other private companies.
“It is the elected officials’ job to adequately fund public parks — not private businesses,” he said.
A city Parks Department spokesman said the idea is under serious consideration.
“Public-private partnerships create significant benefits for both parks and their visitors,” an agency spokesman said in a statement. “These partnerships, which exist in parks throughout the city, help to connect people, engage community members, provide programming, and keep parks clean and beautiful.”
Save FMCP encourages the public to testify against the USTA expansion at the City Planning Commission hearing this Wednesday, April 24th at 10am at 22 Reade Street in Manhattan. The official announcement is below:
USTA BILLIE JEAN KING TENNIS CENTER
CDs 3, 4, & 6-9 C 130155 PPQ
IN THE MATTER OF an application submitted by the NYC Department of Parks and
Recreation (DPR) and the USTA National Tennis Center Inc., pursuant to Section 197-c of the
New York City Charter, for the disposition of a lease of city-owned property to the USTA
National Tennis Center Inc. located northerly of United Nations Avenue North, between
Meridian Road, and Path of Americas (Block 2018, p/o Lot 1) within Flushing Meadows-Corona
(On April 10, 2013, Cal. No. 6, the Commission scheduled April 24, 2013 for a public hearing
which has been duly advertised.)
Close the hearing.
On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., in Spector Hall, at the Department of City
Planning, 22 Reade Street, in Lower Manhattan, a public hearing is being held by the
Department of Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the above ULURP hearing to
receive comments related to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) concerning a
disposition of non-residential City-owned land at the USTA Billie Jean King National
Tennis Center (NTC), located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The NTC is
located on a portion of Queens Block 2018, Lot 1, on park land leased by The City of New
York Department of Parks and Recreation to USTA National Tennis Center, Incorporated
(USTA). The leased site is bounded to the north by the railway tracks of Long Island 31
Railroad (LIRR)’s Port Washington line; United Nations Avenue North to the south; the
Passarelle Building and Path of the Americas to the east; and Grand Central Parkway to
the west. The proposed actions would facilitate a proposal to improve and expand USTA
facilities, collectively known as the NTC Strategic Vision. To accommodate the proposed
project, up to 0.94 acres of land would be added to the NTC site, including up to 0.68 acres
of park land that would be alienated. Written comments on the DEIS are requested and
would be received and considered by the Lead Agency through Monday, May 6, 2013.
This hearing is being held pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act
(SEQRA) and City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), CEQR No. 12DPR005Q.
USTA Chief Operating Officer - Daniel Zausner. The USTA refuses to make its proposal publicly available.
Chief-of-Staff to the Borough President Alex Rosa (L) and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (R).
Save FMCP member Phil Konigsberg testifies.
SaveFMCP co-founder Ben Haber testifies.
SaveFMCP co-founder Robert Loscalzo testifies.
The bottom line is that the USTA does not require more land to build new stadiums. They just want it. In light of this, why would any elected official vote to approve alienation of parkland? As the last paragraph of Robert's testimony reads:
"This USTA proposal, like the two others that impinge on our park, are efforts to close deals on parkland while the Bloomberg administration is still around to sign the papers. Please do right by the people of Queens: Tell USTA to renovate within its existing space, and reject its self-serving application to expand its size and its impacts."
Why is New Yorkers for Parks organization irresponsibly taking the position that it would be perfectly acceptable for the USTA to steal more parkland so long as it sets up a “park maintenance fund” for Flushing Meadows?
Instead, they should be advocating for adequate resources to be allocated to the park in the City budget. The current fraction of 1 percent allocated toward parks citywide is woefully inadequate, and the City is required by the City Charter to maintain its property.
Genuine park activists would not be advocating for the USTA to take and replace parkland since the obvious thing to be demanding here is that the City not allow this private business to expand within the park.
So as not to mislead the public, they may want to rename their group “New Yorkers for the Privatization of Parks.” Positions such as that of this organization are the reason why we have such a disparity in park conditions in the first place.
Co-founder, Coalition to Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Report of Monday's CB7 Parks Committee meeting courtesy of A Walk in the Park:
Last night Community Board 7's Park Committee overwhelmingly voted to approve the USTA's $ 500 million expansion. The approval was conditioned upon the tennis giant establishing a capital fund of $15 million and an annual maintenance fund of $ 300,000 to be used exclusively for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
CB3's Parks Committee voted differently, but only after holding a meeting that they planned to keep closed to the public. Again, from A Walk in the Park:
Various Community Board 3 committees voted to reject the USTA's $ 500 million expansion on Tuesday night.
The City is desperate to get this plan passed by the Community Boards it oversees. It will do anything - including violating the Open Meetings Law - to do so. We're on it.
We are dedicated to stopping private development of Queens' flagship public park.