NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors and some elected officials are furious over a proposal to eliminate part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens for a mall, two stadiums and new roads and parking space.
New York State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) and City Council Member Julissa Ferreras (D-21st) marched with residents Sunday from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona, Queens to the park, where they held a cleanup effort Sunday.
The group was protesting plans by the Bloomberg administration to build a 1.4 million square-foot mall, stadiums for the USTA National Tennis Center and professional soccer, 900 additional parking spots including garages, and new roads on what is now parkland.
Organizers complained that the plans will result in years of construction and dozens of acres of parkland lost to development, and without any compensation to New York City in exchange for corporate use of public property.
If the development plan goes ahead, organizers fear it could mean overcrowding on mass transit, and problems with traffic, sanitation and flooding, as well as a threat to small businesses and property values.
Three separate developments have been on the drawing board for the park since early fall. Some space would be replaced with land swaps, but in October, Donovan Finn of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance 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 said in October that Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is “incredibly heavily used,” with family barbecues, organized soccer leagues and pickup volleyball games all going on at once much of the time.
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, the New York Daily News reported in October.
While State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens) said in October 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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