Queens Civic Congress Testimony to New York City CouncilConcerning Proposed Willets Point West Mall at Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Queens Civic Congress would like to say up front that the proposed Willets Point West Mall
project is an unconscionable alienation of public parkland and the City Council should strike it
down immediately and definitively. The Congress and its members are not happy to have
parkland as part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park used as a parking lot, but we have always
believed if the parking lot became unnecessary the land could quickly and easily be returned to
true public, recreational use. Please say NO to this outrageous land grab.
As many of you know, the Queens Civic Congress is an umbrella organization consisting of over
100 civic associations throughout the Borough. The Congress has been active with the Flushing
Meadows Corona Park Conservancy, the Fairness Coalition of Queens, Save Flushing Meadows
Corona Park and the New York City Parks Advocate over the past several months to help ensure
the Park remains available to the numerous communities in nearby Queens. The Congress has in
the past opposed commercial development in the Park and remains adamantly opposed to any
further encroachment on public spaces.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the largest park in Queens and ought to serve as the flagship
park in Queens, but instead it has become the dumping ground of last resort for placing projects
that no other area will accept. CitiField has used many acres of park land on a deal that benefits
only the Mets owners and their profits return very little direct financial benefit to the City, to
Queens or to the Park. The parking lots surrounding the stadium sit on parkland and any change
in use should be subject to alienation requirements.
But the introduction of a massive steel and concrete mall to these western parking lots would
permanently destroy a public park amenity the community should enjoy for recreation and fun.
Not only will the mall remove forever land that could be used by the thousands of nearby
residents, but a mall will destroy hundreds of nearby “mom-and-pop” businesses in surrounding
neighborhoods, introducing potentially devastating competition to existing, struggling malls,
such as the struggling Shops at Atlas Park, Rego Park Mall and even Queens Center Mall.
Furthermore, there is no pedestrian traffic nearby to support a mall. Residential development
plans for Willets Point remain unclear and far in the future.
If, as the City is proposing, the CitiField parking lots are excess and can be repurposed, the space
could better be used by the people for additional picnic and recreational space -- not for stores
and movie theaters that have highly questionable demand and little or no access.
Please preserve our open space at Flushing Meadows Corona Park - just say “No.”
Richard C. Hellenbrecht, President