The 1,255 acre Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the Borough of Queens’ most prominent park and provides open space and recreational benefits to thousands of borough residents and low and middle income families. The Park is a valuable asset for the City and the residents of Queens not only because of its green space and natural areas, but also due to its embodiment of historical structures and leading cultural and educational institutions. The Park also has a unique history, serving as host to two World Fairs in 1939 and 1964, plus hosting the General Assembly of the United Nations from 1946 to 1950.
That is why, earlier this year, Avella asked LPC to review landmark status for Queens’ most prominent and historic park, which is under the threat of devastating development interests. Currently, the Mets organization is floating the idea of building a Mall in the park, the United States Tennis Association is proposing to expand and Major League Soccer is still interested in building a stadium that would further eliminate parkland.
Unfortunately, LPC recently denied this request and indicated that the park did not meet the criteria for designation.
Avella stated, “I am very disappointed in the Landmark Preservation Commission’s decision to not designate Flushing Meadows Corona Park as a landmark. It is clear to me that with its rich history and importance as Queens’ most significant and treasured park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park deserves landmark recognition, especially now. With three separate development proposals threatening to take away valuable parkland, Flushing Meadows Corona Park needs to be preserved now more than ever.”
“Parkland is sacred,” continued Avella. “The City should not be entertaining these proposals which would radically reduce open and recreational space for the hundreds of thousands of Queens residents who use this park on a yearly basis. Instead, the City should landmark this vital borough park to ensure its continued usage for generations to come and send a clear message that parkland is not for sale!”
“That is why I am calling on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to immediately reconsider their decision and demand that they hold a public hearing on this important issue. At the very least, the residents of Queens deserve to have their voices heard,” concluded Avella.
Paul Graziano, representing Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and a candidate for the 19th City Council District blasted the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the decades-long neglect of important historic structures in the park. "The first preservation battle that I ever got involved in was the Aquacade, which stood just to the south of the Long Island Expressway on Meadow Lake," stated Graziano, "and it was an incredibly important as it was one of the last remaining buildings from the 1939 World's Fair. The building suffered neglect in the 1980s and 1990s, and former Borough President Claire Shulman drew up a plan for its restoration - until she decided to hand a demolition contract to one of her financial supporters."
"We also almost lost the façade of the Queens Museum a decade ago, when the plan was to radically alter its façade. Thankfully, the financial crisis of the last few years ended that terrible plan - but it could have easily happened, and the place where the United Nations first met would have been unrecognizable to future generations."
"The New York State Pavilion also stands as a ruin, due to the neglect of New York City. This amazing structure by Phillip Johnson - one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century - stands as a testament to the lack of support that the remainder of the World's Fair fairgrounds and park plan has been jeopardized by the Landmarks Commission and city government for decades. It must end through the immediate landmarking of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and subsequent funding to restore and enhance our borough's 'Central' park."