Hundreds of residents packed into the Our Lady of Sorrows auditorium in Corona to make known that they want to keep their park.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the biggest park in Queens, is currently being considered for the development of a new shopping mall, two new stadiums and concert venues and several parking garages and roads inside the park.
“We are here this evening because we are going to discuss an area that is our neighbor, it means so much to us,” said Monsignor Thomas Healy of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Several people held up signs reading, “Don’t destroy our second home,” and “Don’t kill our nature.”
The Fairness Coalition of Queens, a group of nonprofit community and religious organizations, hosted the town hall meeting on Monday, September 17 to speak with the community about the effects of the potential projects in the 1,255-acre park.
Many residents are displeased with the proposed plans because they wish to keep an area that, for many, is the only open space available near home. They do not want to lose an area that many people use for both relaxation and exercise.
City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras was also in attendance, and spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about her love for Flushing Meadows.
“We understand that each inch of land we give up is an inch we are not getting back,” she said. “Today this [meeting] has shown to the world that our community does matter, and that our park is our park.”
Amongst hopeful developers are the Wilpon family, the owner of the New York Mets, who proposes to use parkland west of Citi Field to build the largest shopping mall in the city, at 1.4 million-square-feet.
Also, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) wishes to construct two new tennis stadiums and two parking garages within the park.
Danny Zausner, managing director of the tennis center, previously said that the USTA plans will not impact the spot in a footprint perspective.
“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said.
Finally, Major League Soccer (MLS) seeks to build a 25,000-seat stadium and concert venue, along with an additional parking garage.
Senator Jose Peralta advocates the construction of an MLS stadium, and has a number of supporters behind him.
Peralta, a Willets Point supporter who went to Monday’s meeting, says that having a new soccer field in a soccer-crazed community could only be beneficial. The number of construction, game-day and permanent jobs could be advantageous to the largely working-class population.
If an MLS stadium is constructed, the senator’s office is also looking into replacement parkland to establish nearby.
In a statement issued by the MLS, it is said that the organization is committed to securing another team for the league located in New York City, and are “thrilled about bringing the world’s sport to the world’s park.” MLS is open to working with the community to build a facility for everyone to enjoy, they said.
“A privately financed soccer stadium to replace a big hole in the ground filled with dirty water is a good deal for soccer fans and the park-goers who would get to enjoy the many upgrades to the park,” said Peralta.