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Queens Chronicle

Marshall approves USTA expansion

Recommends $15M fund, MWBE, union jobs and replacement land

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:32 am, Thu Apr 25, 2013.

Borough President Helen Marshall called for $15 million in funding, a greater focus in minority and women-owned business enterprises and union labor in her approval of the United States Tennis Association’s plans to expand its National Tennis Center within Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The recommendation ends the Queens-level portion of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, after six community boards and the Borough Board heard presentations and input from residents about the plan.

The USTA’s proposal calls for the creation of a new Grandstand within grounds that is already leased to the nonprofit, a rejuvenated Louis Armstrong Stadium, a shopping center, an expansion of its on-site parking facilities and permission to allow 10,000 more spectators. As a result of the influx of bodies, the USTA has contended it needs .68 acre of additional parkland.

That expansion into what was previously mapped as parkland has been at the heart of groups opposing the plan. It has been divisive at the community board level, with three boards voting in favor with stipulations, and three voting against. The Borough Board, a fourth body capable of voting on the matter, refrained from doing so because it lacked a quorum.

Marshall’s approval comes with stipulations that address previously stated concerns, though it’s not enough for some.

“It’s sad that she doesn’t understand or care that the proposed alliance would only go to encourage further commercial encroachment on the parkland,” said New York City Park Advocates’ Geoffrey Croft, adding the stipulation calling for replacement parkland does little to console park lovers.

Marshall also bizarrely calls for the Louis Armstrong Stadium to retain its name after it’s rebuilt. That arena’s renaming was never a topic of discussion nor were any proposals for a new name floated.

“We’re very pleased that the Queens borough president supports the USTA and our proposed expansion plan for the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” said the USTA’s Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner in a statement. “Our plan, which has garnered strong support, will ensure the Tennis Center remains a top public recreational facility and world-class spectator venue and also continues being an economic catalyst for Queens and the City of New York.”

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