The Fairness Coalition of Queens, a collective of community groups lambasting proposed developments at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, held its second in a series of three town hall meetings meant to inform residents about their claim that the plans would rob the community of the park’s green space, dilapidated as it may be, on Monday at the Community United Methodist Church in Jackson Heights.
“Unusable park space is being used,” said Jackson Heights resident Wesley Hoffman, his son Felix in two. “Imagine if there was more usable parkland.”
The proposed changes include two new tennis stadiums at the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a 250,000-seat soccer stadium built by Major League Soccer within the park, as well as a shopping mall next to the park at Citi Field’s existing parking lot.
Speakers at the event decried the plans as the giveaway of precious park space to mega-rich private interests in exchange for hollow promises of jobs and a better economy.
FC Queens, which includes Make the Road New York, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance and the Queens Community House, held a similar town hall last week, and plans another in East Elmhurst, with the goal of creating a critical mass of voices demanding the plans are publicly vetted and approved.
“Every inch of parkland we lose is parkland we won’t get back here,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, D-East Elmhurst.
The USTA contends its plan would only utilize only three quarters of an acre of parkland, which is currently a service road and not green space. MLS has promised to revitalize the parks nine soccer fields as part of its plan, which would plop the stadium atop what is currently the Industrial Pond, just east of the Unisphere.
“I really bristle when I hear some of the developers act like they are saviors of the park,” said Donovan Finn, a resident and urban planning professor at Stony Brook University.