“Every couple of years, people have great ideas for the park. We don’t need their ideas.” - Arne Abramowitz, former Flushing Meadows-Corona Park administrator, speaking to the Queens Chronicle.
To: Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Councilman James F. Gennaro (email@example.com)
Assemblyman MichaelSimanowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (SaveFMCP@gmail.com)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of my family moving to Queens. We have lived around Flushing Meadows-Corona Park the entire time. My earliest memories are from the 1964 - 1965 World’s Fair. As the fair is approaching its 50th anniversary next year as well as the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair I am appalled by what is happening to our great park.
With all due respect to people who do not remember these fairs, the land is historical, and whatever is left standing from these fairs needs to be preserved for future generations.
Let me give you a short history lesson on the Pool Of Industry. This is where the MLS would like to build a soccer stadium. On the third page is a quote from the 1964 and the 1965 World’s Fair guide books.
We need to repair this once great fountain and return it to its glorious past in time to celebrate the anniversaries. Please go to the following website to learn about the 1964 World’s Fair. I do not know if you are aware of the historical value of this park. http://www.nywf64.com. I am sure most people would find this fascinating and a great learning experience.
The city needs to look into the best way to restore the Pool of Industry. I propose the following based on a recent experience I had. For winter break this year, I took my children to Los Angeles, we visited the California Adventure Theme Park at Disneyland. In the park they have an area called Paradise Pier. In this area they have rides around a large pool called Paradise Bay. This is shaped like the Pool of Industry. At night they have a show called “World of Color” that includes water, color, fire and animation. Here is a link to the show information with a video. http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneys-california-adventure/world-of-color/ It is a modern version of what the Pool of Industry used to be. I am also attaching Youtube links to see other videos of the “World of Color” and two that are an overview of the 1964 World’s Fair.
World of Color
1964-1965 World’s Fair
There are many other videos on Youtube that you can view.
Disney had great influence on the designs of the 1964 World’s Fair. At one time, Walt Disney wanted to build an amusement park there. Even though his plans did not work out, Disney has a historical tie to the park. We need to approach Walt Disney, Inc. and see if they would like to restore the Pool of Industry and put on similar shows as they have in California for the people of NY. What better way to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs then to bring back the Pool of Industry.
Would the city tear down the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park or the Bandshell in Prospect Park to build a soccer stadium? I would think not. So why tear down a historical part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park?
Please consider having the city contact Disney. We need to restore and remember our past, not destroy it.
Fresh Meadows, NY
Flushing Meadows soccer stadium must be stopped [Queens Chronicle] 1/31/2013
Major League Soccer is doing its best to rush a misguided plan to build a stadium in Queens through all the hurdles it faces before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office. It cannot be allowed to succeed.
League officials have been given every opportunity to be forthcoming about the important details of their proposal and to counter their critics, and they refuse to do so. A similar project they got approved in Harrison, NJ, just over the Hudson River, has failed to live up to its promises and ended up shorting that town’s taxpayers at least $3.6 million.
And, above all, their plan for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park would severely damage what remains the crown jewel of Queens, without enough benefit to residents.
The deal MLS seeks with the city would be a steal, literally, in all but the legal sense. It wants a $1 a year lease for up to 13 acres of public parkland — the classic deal politicians and private for-profit businesses cook up behind closed doors to take the citizens’ property without compensation.
That deal, which must be stopped, is at the heart of why MLS is in such a rush. If it doesn’t get public land essentially for free, the league will have to buy the 10 to 13 acres it needs for a 25,000 seat arena on the open market.
All that the public would get in exchange is 13 acres of new parkland somewhere else —but not all in one chunk — and the rehab of some existing soccer fields at Flushing Meadows, which should be a city job anyway. MLS also says it would invest tens of millions of dollars in the park, but it’s vague as to how and where, as it is on so many details, even when its president met with us last week.
One of the most frustrating vagaries is the league’s site selection process. MLS is dead set on building a stadium in Flushing Meadows, mostly because the land would be free but also because there are so many Latin Americans in nearby neighborhoods and soccer is such a force in that culture, and because of all the transportation options that get people to the park. But we don’t see why a stadium couldn’t be considered for any number of other locations, such as Aqueduct Race Track or the old Flushing Airport, and MLS has not been forthcoming in what other sites it rejected or why.
We are not against soccer in Queens; in fact we would welcome it. We are against giving away our parkland. Imagine, as crazy as it sounds, that this project had been proposed for Central Park. Of course it would be rejected out of hand. But if the mayor wants a stadium, maybe he should consider putting it there, in his own neighborhood’s crown jewel park.
Another major concern with the proposal is the question of team ownership, one of many issues discussed in this week’s Queens Chronicle story “MLS to Queens? Stop by Harrison, NJ first.” The league has yet to select an owner for the team it would locate here, but that means accountability would be hard to pursue should any problems arise as the stadium is built. And the one possible owner that’s been reported on in the press is an Arab oil sheik, a prospect we find troubling. If a Queens soccer team were to go belly up, as two MLS teams have in recent years, what would he care about an empty stadium nearly half a world away?
Standard political practice means there is one person who could stop this project today if she wants to: City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, whose district includes the northern section of the park. She should see this proposal for the land grab that it is. If she says no to it, the rest of the Council will follow suit, and the plan will be denied — if MLS doesn’t just give up on its own first. We urge you to call Ferreras at (718) 651-1917 or (212) 788-6862, or email her at email@example.com, and tell her to keep our park in our hands. MLS can come back with a better site any time.
"At our monthly meeting on January 28, 2013 held in Queens Borough Hall, the Queens Preservation Council voted unanimously to support the efforts of Save FMCP. Please keep us informed and let us know how we might be of help."
Mitchell Grubler, Chair
Queens Preservation Council
Just when you thought that it could not get any more outrageous than the CB7 committee meeting re: USTA expansion held last week, along came Tuesday night's meeting of the Queens Housing Coalition, held in Woodside at 57th Street and 39th Avenue, with a special presentation by the attorneys representing the joint venture of Sterling/Related to acquaint the community with the proposed Willets Point / Willets West development and the housing that comes with it (in 2028).
Highlights (and there were many) included attorney Ethan Goodman emphasizing that "our project does not affect any publicly accessible open space that is parkland. We are developing only HERE [points to PowerPoint slide depicting a large parking lot filled with automobiles] and HERE [points to next slide, depicting quonset huts with automotive businesses on 126th Street at Willets Point]. Our project doesn't take away any fields, grass, etc.
And, we're going to remove 100 YEARS' WORTH of contamination at Willets Point."
A key theme of the evening was alleged contamination, with the attorneys emphasizing that Willets Point had been used as an ash dump, with some ash piles having been "90 feet high". (So what?) Attorney Jesse Masyr said "it's beyond any doubt that the area is severely contaminated" – so contaminated that "no one can live there under the present conditions" and "it would be illegal to let anyone live there under the present conditions". To which the sole resident, Joe Ardizzone, came to the microphone and replied: "I'm 80 years old, and I've lived there ever since I was born, with no problem. How bad is it really, then?"
When the attorneys closed their PowerPont with a slide summarizing all of the projects' supporters (mostly housing/developer/chamber of commerce groups), Ardizzone added that a large number of groups also oppose the project – and cited the Queens Civic Congress's vote to oppose and its representation of 100+ civics.
By and large, the audience saw through the attorneys' double-talk. The Queens Housing Coalition trying to put lipstick on this pig, in support of fantasy housing in 2028, was pathetic. They should be ashamed of themselves.
City Council Member Julissa Ferreras did not attend. Probably because it was held nowhere near her district. Why is it that a meeting regarding housing built in Corona/Flushing was not held in either community?
Queens Community Board 7's Parks Committee held a meeting on 1/23/13. CB7 isn't concerned with losing parkland -- only with what USTA will "give us" in return. USTA won't replace the parkland it's taking, but will substitute improvements to the park.
When asked what improvements, USTA and the NYC Parks Dept. said they don't know, and they won't know until the fate of the MLS proposal has also been decided, because only then can the improvements be apportioned between USTA and MLS. When asked, "What's the USTA budget for these improvements?" the USTA said it doesn't know. So, USTA is proposing to compensate for the parkland with improvements to other areas of the park, but USTA will not even say what amount is reasonable. If a decision-maker is asked to approve this, isn't he/she entitled to know what USTA considers the value of the parkland to be?
That USTA and Parks came to the meeting tonight without such information, shows their inconsideration for CB7. Parks said it's difficult to appraise the value of parkland, because there's no market.
This, despite the USTA lease establishing a value.
USTA said that this expansion is necessary to, among other reasons, ensure that the U.S. Open does not lose top players to other up-and-coming foreign venues/tournaments that could be more lucrative.
So, the value of the 0.68 parkland acre USTA wants, is intended to provide nothing less than the successful continuation of the U.S. Open -- which rakes in $275 million annually to USTA. As such, that 0.68 acre is exceptionally valuable to USTA, and must be compensated on that basis.
Another CB7 meeting will be scheduled for late February, when USTA is expected to "bring the number." The whole CB7 board is scheduled to vote on March 11 (should also be a public hearing that night).
We have started a petition at Change.org. Please take a moment to sign it.
Stop the commercial encroachment of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Interesting article from Capital New York, entitled, A tennis-center expansion in Queens requires a tricky definition of 'public':
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the biggest park in the borough of Queens, but it's probably not the nicest one.
Further in the article, we read the following:
Courts at the U.S.T.A.'s publicly accessible tennis courts range from $22 an hour on weekdays between 6 and 8 a.m., to $66 an hour on weekends, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's not truly "public use" unless it's freely accessible.
We participated in a discussion about the proposed plans for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park at the Queens Civic Congress meeting at 8pm at the Queens County Farm Museum tonight. The group, representing 110 civic associations across Queens, voted unanimously to join our coalition. Welcome!
We are dedicated to stopping private development of Queens' flagship public park.