Assemblyman Alan Hevesi’s opinion article “Reservations about USTA shouldn’t halt a good plan” (Feb. 7, multiple editions), backing the USTA’s request for more land in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and to increase the size of its current structures in the park, strongly suggests he is more accomplished as a lobbyist for the USTA than an advocate for the little people whose tax dollars pay his salary.
The article demonstrates Mr. Hevesi speaks with a forked tongue. On the one hand he suggests all the parties come together on a plan to solve the issue, but on the other hand, he makes it clear he already made up his mind and approves the USTA’s request for a further intrusion in the park.
In supporting the USTA, Mr. Hevesi demonstrates he is a member in good standing with those myopic politicians who place little or no value on the importance of urban parks, a nonrenewable resource, and believes parkland is simply real estate to be alienated to the highest bidder or one with political connections. He also displays a total lack of historical understanding of FMCP and the USTA. When the USTA decided to leave Forest Hills, it did not do so to serve a public purpose. It did so to make more money and by taking parkland free of charge, it avoided having to purchase land on the open market. At the time, the USTA promised it would not thereafter ask for more land, a promise that turned out to be as worthless as a dead tennis ball. It did in fact come back and extorted a huge additional part of the park. While it now seeks a small additional piece, the more important, and most odious, aspect is that it seeks to significantly increase the size of its structures already in the park and destroy hundreds of trees
Mr. Hevesi obviously bought into the USTA’s claim its presence in New York City is a better bargain than the purchase of Manhattan Island from the native Indians, when it is no financial windfall at all. All sports activities in this city do not account for more than seven-tenths of 1 percent of the city’s gross economic product, an amount that can be equated with the tip one gives the youngster who delivers your groceries. It does not put more police or firefighters on the streets or give us more and better schools. The city had no need to file for bankruptcy because the Jets, Giants and Dodgers left.
New York need not be concerned that if the USTA is now turned down, it will leave. It has no trouble competing “as is” with other tennis tournaments and it will not leave. Greedy they are, but not stupid. There is no reason for the USTA’s further intrusion other than they want to make more money, the bulk of which goes into the pockets of the professional players and toward USTA commitments throughout the United States, not Queens.
What is sad is that Mr. Hevesi simply does not understand his obligation is to protect parks not just for the current residents of Queens and this city, but for generations yet unborn. His failings should come as no surprise, given his abysmal record of never lifting a finger to help the park, with examples being his silence on Major Soccer League’s attempt to build a stadium in the park and the proposed mall and hotel to be built by the Mets owners on their parking lot, which is in fact parkland.