NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If some people get their way, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park could look a lot different in the future.
That’s because there are proposals to expand The USTA National Tennis Center with two new stadiums, build a 25,000-seat professional soccer stadium, and construct a mall.
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“The worst part is that they’re all being proposed in the same park within a stone’s throw of one another,” said Donovan Finn of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance.
If you go to the park on any weekend, you can see how important it is to the community.
“This park is incredibly heavily used,” Finn said. “Families having barbecues with organized soccer leagues, with pickup volleyball games.”
“That park is like people’s playground, their backyard,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
With three separate developments on the drawing board for the park, there’s concern in surrounding neighborhoods.
Some space would be replaced with land swaps, but Finn said it wouldn’t be the same.
“But to take a big piece of park land and replace it with 10 smaller pieces in not prime locations, scattered about. I don’t [think] this is as valuable,” he said.
Finn added that there would also be an increase in traffic.
Neighbors told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon that they are worried about the developments eroding the park’s green space.
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“I learned to ride my bike in Flushing Meadows Park. That’s where my parents took me and my brother as kids. I feel that parks are sacred. They shouldn’t be privatized for profit gained,” Steven Mayano said.
Several informational meetings have been held in the neighborhoods around the park to explain the plans to Queens residents. The meetings have all had turnouts in the hundreds, with many young families voicing concerns over the park’s future.
The latest meeting was held in Jackson Heights by the Jackson Heights Green Alliance in an effort to mobilize residents against the proposed stadiums and mall.
“That park is the backyard for a heavily immigrant, low to moderate income, population,” Finn said.
The USTA said that tennis center expansion would only affect three-quarters of an acre, but the proposed soccer stadium could consume up to 13 acres, according to the Daily News.
While State Sen. Jose Peralta said that the soccer stadium would be an economic boon to Queens, advocacy groups insisted that the neighborhood does not have room to spare and that the proposed development would negatively affect the lives of residents.
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