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Queens Chronicle

Park for sale (not by owner)

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Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

The Chronicle’s admonition to City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras to reject the proposed soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, while well intentioned, will in my opinion fall on deaf ears (“Preserve, don’t pervert, Flushing Meadows,” Editorial, Feb. 28).

Ms. Ferreras has stated she would support the USTA’s expansion in FMCP, a Major Soccer League stadium in the park and the Mets owner Wilpon’s proposal to build a huge shopping mall on its current parking lots, which like Citi Field are on parkland, provided these three commercial entities set up a fund for the benefit of the park. In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, New York City did not sell, barter or alienate public parkland for economic reasons and there is no justification to do so at this time.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. A contribution to a fund is a sale of public parkland in sheep’s clothing. What Ms. Ferraras fails to understand is that there is a difference between a philanthropic contribution from a civic minded person who seeks nothing from the park other than possibly name recognition and commercial entities who want parkland often free of charge and with taxpayer subsidies. The USTA, MSL and Mets all fall into the latter category and Ms. Ferreras’ proposal simply sanctions another unwarranted sale of precious public parkland and must be rejected. Ms. Ferraras’s proposal makes her a member in good standing with inept politicians who complicit with a disgraceful and unprofessional Parks Department have been abusing FMCP and the public be damned.

If Ms. Ferreras wants to be judged as worthy of her office, she should withdraw her absurd proposal and publicly oppose all further commercial intrusions in the park and that includes the USTA, MSL and a Mets mall. She should be in the forefront demanding the city and Parks Department stop treating FMCP as real estate and take proper care of the people’s park.

If Ms. Ferreras and far too many politicians prefer to treat FMCP as real estate and not a park, they should own up to it and press the city to de-list it from the municipal park system and turn it over to the city’s real estate department. The city could then sell it on the open market for hundreds of billions of dollars, an amount that would balance our city budget for years. I do not approve of such a drastic measure, but it may in the long run not be any worse than the ongoing gradual desecration of the park.

I take issue that since the three proposals involve portions of FMCP that are in Ms. Ferreras’s council district, her decision carries greater weight. This is nonsense. We are not talking about the corner grocery store that may require a variance, but a city park. The park does not belong only to the residents in Ms. Ferreras’s district, and not just the residents of Queens, but to all the residents of New York City. Any council member who blindly follows Ms. Ferreras is not pursuing his or her sworn duty to all the residents whose taxes pay their salaries and perks.

Benjamin M. Haber

Welcome to the discussion.