Over 100 years ago Frederick Law Olmstead, the genius who created Central and Prospect parks in this city and many other parks elsewhere, said, “The first duty of our park trustees is to hand down from one generation to the next the treasure of scenery which the city has placed in their care.” That requirement rests squarely upon the shoulders of all elected officials in this state and city, and, with due respect, it includes you.
While Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens is the second most-used park in our city, primarily by the poor and middle class, it is also the most abused, littered with all sorts of illegitimate nonpark structures that would not and should not be allowed in Central, Bronx, Prospect or Clove Lake parks. This has occurred over decades through the malfeasance of many elected officials, primarily in Queens, who viewed their constituency as real estate moguls and businesses and not the little people who are the users of the park.
The claim that FMCP is different from other parks is nonsense and a ploy to justify the constant attempts to trespass on it. There is nothing in the City Charter that designates FMCP as being different than any other park. And the abuse is not justified for economic reasons. Apart from how the claimed economic benefits are, in terms of the city’s gross economy, paltry and of little or no significance, a civilized society does not sell or barter public parkland.
In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, this city did not sell or barter parkland. Indeed, if you believe parks should be for sale, you should state publicly you would support what has occurred in FMCP happening in Central Park. Of course you would not, and the time has come for you to insist on similar treatment for FMCP.
Your attention is directed to the Queens Chronicle Jan. 31 edition and its comprehensive, well-thought out editorial opposing Major League Soccer’s attempt to construct a stadium in FMCP (“Flushing Meadows soccer stadium must be stopped”). It is clear there is no justification for yet another assault on the integrity on FMCP, and the proposed stadium must be rejected. Like most private for-profit businesses, MLS is free to purchase property on the open market. Enough is enough, and the desecration of FMCP must stop.
In using your good offices to reject the stadium you will be making it clear you understand the importance of parkland not just for current residents, but for generations as yet unborn. Let right be done, oppose the MLS stadium in our park and earn an important legacy as a public official.
Benjamin M. Haber