Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Renderings leaked of potential Manhattan soccer stadium at Pier 40


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via Google maps

Renderings of a possible stadium for the new Major League Soccer (MLS) team, New York City Football Club, made their way onto the Internet yesterday.

The renderings were made in 2012 by the organization, but it is not known who leaked them online.

“This rendering was a conceptual design that Major League Soccer produced when considering Pier 40 as a potential soccer stadium,” said Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications. “On a daily basis New York City FC is working on a long-term stadium solution.”

 

MLS has considered building a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which was supported by a few politicians. However, recently that idea has seen numerous kickbacks.

About two weeks ago Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show that Yankee Stadium will be the home for the New York City Football Club. This statement was later retracted.

The Flushing Meadows-Corona Park proposal has also drawn opposition from Councilmember Leroy Comrie, chair of the council’s Land Use Committee, and Senator Tony Avella, who suggested the stadium be built in the Rockaways.

“Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is used by residents from all across Queens, and this usage by Major League Soccer would negatively impact park life,” Comrie previously said to The Courier. “While there are many soccer fans here in Queens, there are more appropriate places to build this stadium.”

Avella recently penned a bill aimed at preventing proposals to change parkland use, which would require parkland taken for projects to be replaced with three times the space and within one mile of the project. If passed by the legislature after summer recess, it would lower the chances of getting the stadium in Queens.

The expansion team, which is jointly owned by English club Manchester City F.C. and the New York Yankees, will not begin play until 2015.

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Terrace on the Park lease to be up for bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Terrace on the Park operators want to upgrade the facility and are looking to get a new lease on the popular and historic Flushing Meadows-Corona Park catering hall to do so.

Their contract with the city’s Parks Department expires next March, officials said.

The department has issued a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 52-11 111th Street site.

“While the current concessionaire has invested more than $8 million in capital improvements, exceeding the requirements of their license agreement, it is clear that additional infrastructure investments are needed,” a Parks spokesperson said.

George Makkos, co-owner of Terrace on the Park, said they have invested $12 million so far to better the catering hall.

But the 100,000-square-foot building needs “millions” of dollars more in capital improvements which cannot be done under the looming lease expiration date, Makkos said.

“Given the size and complexity of the building, the money that we will need to spend will never be recovered in the time, in the lease that we have left,” he said.

Makkos said he and co-owner Jimmy Kaloidis want to retain and upgrade the catering hall.

“We’re trying to extend the lease for a new term so we can spend what’s needed and a lot more to bring the building to a state which is sufficient so it can compete in the wedding and corporate banquet business as it should,” he said.

The city must launch a procedural public bidding process.

“It’s a huge building. Everything becomes a big deal,” Makkos said. “A simple remodeling could cost a million dollars.”

The proposal process is competitive but open to any entities, including the current concessionaire, the Parks Department said.

Terrace on the Park was built for the 1964 World’s Fair and has been a catering hall for nearly 50 years.

The current contract was scheduled to expire in March 2020 but was amended to expire in March 2014, officials said.

A Parks Department spokesperson said the change is not related to any development proposals at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

 

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USTA gets OK to expand Tennis Center, pledges $10M to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has agreed to pledge more than $10 million to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as part of a deal struck with the City Council.

“This deal was a long time coming,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras. “I can say with confidence that we will all benefit from this expansion.”

USTA officials needed the council’s final vote to go through with the $500 million plan to expand the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at the park by 0.68 acres.

They agreed to commit to ongoing community outreach programs, create an annual job fair for Queens residents and give 5,000 free Arthur Ashe Day tickets to Queens kids.

The more than $10 million pledged by the USTA would go toward public safety enhancements at the park, Ferreras said.

“There are still details that we are currently working on and we will work on as a community for weeks to come,” she said.

The plans include hiring more local residents and preventing cars from parking on the grass.

But many in the borough remain opposed to developers taking city parkland.

The USTA was not originally required to give back any land lost in the project. But officials ultimately agreed to transfer ownership of two parcels of parkland the USTA has been renting to the Parks Department.

Park advocates criticized the plan as giving back land that was already accessible to the public.

Ferreras said the project would create $750 million in revenue annually and provide thousands of jobs.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 86. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 68. Winds from the North at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Shakespeare at  Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s The Tempest near Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Unisphere at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Hot weather killed 8 people in New York City in July

The New York City medical examiner’s office says eight people have died of heat exposure during July’s punishing heat wave. Read more: AP

Queens woman, 96, waited an hour for ambulance at senior residence after 911 call

The 96-year-old Queens woman who waited more than an hour for an ambulance after falling down Monday is still suffering. Read more: New York Daily News 

Far Rockaway residents blast NYC over constant neighborhood flooding

There was frustration on Tuesday in a Queens neighborhood that’s plagued by flooding. Residents said the city is doing nothing to solve the problem. Read more: CBS New York

State to provide refunds for estate taxes paid by same-sex spouses

The State of New York said Tuesday that it will give same-sex spouses refunds for estate taxes they were forced to pay because federal law didn’t recognize gay marriage. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Queens woman recovers life savings from tossed fridge 

A happy ending for a Queens woman who almost lost her life savings. Read more: NY1

Rockaways native was honored by White House for being a “Champion of Change” in response to Hurricane Sandy

A Rockaways native who launched a website to help her old neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy was honored by the White House Tuesday as a “Champion of Change.” Read more: New York Daily News 

Fight over Detroit bankruptcy begins in federal court

A showdown over the biggest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history begins in a federal court on Wednesday morning as creditors challenge its legality. Read more: Reuters 

Queens amusement park ride christened Corona Cobra Coaster


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NY Carousel

Queens kids, come cruise the Corona Cobra Coaster.

The borough’s only roller coaster, which opened in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in May, was officially christened July 20 with its new alliterative moniker.

A naming contest this spring drew in more than 500 submissions from city residents, said officials from Fantasy Forest, which operates the five-ride family amusement park.

Officials skimmed through suggested names like Steel Venom, Dragon Trails, Sandy’s Revenge, The Rushing Flushing Coaster, New York Dragon Coaster, Flushing Meadows Monster, The Snake Queen, The Green Supreme, Puff the Magic Dragon, Cecil the Sea Serpent, Jabberwocky, Fanta Sea Coaster, King of Queens, The Green Anaconda and Komodo Coaster.

But Brooklyn residents Elizabeth Holmes, 45, and Aquiles Nunes, 30, who both suggested similar names, ultimately took home the naming rights and family four packs of unlimited ride wristbands.

The park features the historic Flushing Meadows Carousel as the main attraction. It is the largest merry-go-round in Queens.

“Like everything we do at Fantasy Forest, we try to involve the park guests,” said David Galst, director of operations for New York Carousel, which runs the merry-go-rounds at Forest Park and Flushing Meadows.

The Corona Cobra Coaster is 13 feet tall and travels about 16 miles per hour at its top speed.
Riders must be at least 3 feet 6 inches tall to ride alone.

Fantasy Forest, at 111th Street and 55th Avenue, is open daily through September 8 and on weekends, holidays through December 1.

 

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Thousands particpate in 10K race at Flushing Meadows


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of New York Road Runners

Nearly 7,000 runners took part in the New York Road Runners Queens 10K at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on July 21.

Runners came from all over for the race, which featured about six miles around the park, including in front of Citi Field, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Unisphere.

“It was fun to run next to Citi Field,” said men’s winner Christian Thompson, who hails from Philadelphia and left before 5 a.m. to make the race. “I’ve never been here and I love seeing places I’ve never seen before. And NYC is just unlike any other place on earth.”

The event was the third race of the Road Runners five-borough tour series. Participants were given discounts to save on food and shows at local Queens businesses, such as The Queens Theatre, The Museum of the Moving Image, Limoncello Italian Restaurant, The Laughing Devil Comedy Club and Donovan’s Pub, among others.

For some of the runners it worked as a stepping stone and practice for the New York City Marathon in November, the Road Runners premier event.

In her first time running in Queens, Jayne Grebinski was the female winner and set a new record, completing the course in 37:20.

“I’m honored. It’s nice to get into a race, to be able to get out there and know that you are on-line with the competition with years past,” Grebinski said.

Since the Boston Marathon tragedy the Road Runners have increased security, use bomb sniffing dogs before races and require runners to carry clear bags if they need to carry items.

But many participants weren’t concerned with a terror threat at the event.

“I’m not going to stop living my life or having fun, because stuff happens, Forest Hills native Rahmin Pavlovic said.

 

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Bill to preserve city parkland


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A bill introduced in the State Senate would make it more difficult for private companies to get a hold of city parkland.

“Parkland is sacred and should be preserved for generations to come, not given away to private developers, especially without just and equal parkland compensation,” said State Senator Tony Avella, who penned the legislation.

The law would allow for a review process of proposals to change parkland use. It would also require replacement green space to be three times the size of the parcel being alienated and within one mile of that parcel.

Three separate proposals around Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are at the root of bill’s target. Developers want to expand the US Tennis Association (USTA) stadium, transform Willets Point and build a Major League Soccer stadium there.

“[These projects] threaten to take crucial parkland from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and together constitute perhaps the biggest land grab for parkland not only in Queens, but also in the entire city,” Avella said.

The USTA wants to lease 0.68 acres of city property to expand the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. That would allow them to shift the grandstand stadium and the southern tennis courts.

In exchange, the association agreed to give the city back 1.56 acres it currently leases, though project opponents say a parcel of that land is already publicly accessible.

The state legislature gave its end-of-session approval last month, passing a bill required when municipal parkland is sold or leased to a private entity.

But Avella said the mandated bill is just a legal precedent based on previous court decisions. He added that it only recommends — and does not require — that parkland be replaced.

Park advocates who support the bill say open space is a nonrenewable resource meant for the public and loopholes need to be closed.

“We would like to see park alienation made even more difficult,” said Frederick Kress, founder of Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces. “It needs to be really toughened up.”

Alfredo Centola, founder of Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a group opposed to private development in the park, said the law is “a good idea because it’s going to actually make it extremely difficult for the land to be stolen.”

The Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee will have to decide whether to move the legislation forward to the full Senate after the summer recess is over.

“Unfortunately, once lost, municipal parkland is difficult, if not impossible, to recover,” Avella said.

 

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Two Queens soccer players signed to Cosmos


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos By Angy Altamirano

David Diosa and Sebastián Guenzatti are kicking their way to the top, as both were signed to be part of the returning New York Cosmos.

The Cosmos, which were once based in New York and featured the likes of famed soccer player Pelé, are making a comeback to the North American Soccer League this August.

On the roster, fans will find Diosa, 20, from Jackson Heights and Guenzatti, 22, from College Point.

Colombian-born Diosa started playing soccer at age 4 and came to the United States when he was 10. He played soccer in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on a team called Bolaños and went on to play with other local teams. Diosa also shone bright as he helped Martin Luther King High School’s soccer team win the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) soccer championship four years in a row.

Diosa later became part of the Cosmos youth academy, where he played for the under-18 and under-23 teams.

“It feels amazing,” he said. “I was waiting for this moment since the academy, so I feel glad to play here, feel honored to play here, to be part of the team and to be part of the legendary club.”

Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese finds it rewarding to have a player like Diosa on the team. Savarese believes the acquisition shows the work that went into the academy paid off.

“Diosa has a great passion for the game, great commitment,” he said. “He has been doing great and he has been growing very rapidly and developing in his game to be a player that can bring things that we don’t have.”

Guenzatti, who began playing soccer at age 4 in Uruguay, caught Savarese’s eye when he played for him at another local academy in the under-17 and under-18 teams.

“He was always a player that I liked. I felt that he had the potential to become a good pro,” said Savarese. “I felt that it was the right time for him to be part of this.”

After playing soccer for Francis Lewis High School for four years, Guenzatti went on to play for two Uruguayan teams.

Savarese then gave him a call to return to New York and try out for the Cosmos.

“I got a little experience over there and now coming here and playing with players I used to see on T.V. and I used to follow – it feels good,” said Guenzatti.

For both Diosa and Guenzatti, it is still surreal to be playing on the same team with players they watched on television for years. But they hope to learn from other teammates and grow together. Both are also thankful to their families.

“I will just work hard [and] listen to the people who are older than me — that have more experience — and get more experience out of this, too,” said Guenzatti.

The Cosmos’ home opener is on August 3 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium.

 

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Cyclists take part in sixth annual Tour de Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

After completing the Five Boro Bike Tour last year, Astoria resident Jennifer Chakrabarti wanted to do a bike ride with her nine-year-old son Bhaskar.

The family-friendly sixth annual Tour de Queens on July 7 fit the bill. This year, it began in Chakrabarti’s “backyard” at Astoria Park.

“I like that it’s a slow-paced so that kids can do it,” Chakrabarti said. “That’s what really drew us to it, because he wanted to do a ride.”

About 1,250 riders from all over the city saddled up for the annual bike tour to experience a relaxing ride and enjoy unique views of western Queens neighborhoods, which was a major lane change for the event.

For the first time ever, the ride started in Astoria Park instead of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It continued for nearly 20 miles through Long Island City, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Corona and Elmhurst.

The ride also highlighted Juniper Valley Park at the halfway point, where the group gathered to rest, eat and reenergize.

“We change the ride up every year to showcase different parts of the borough, to demonstrate the interconnectivity of the different neighborhoods and to show how easy it is to bike through the borough and to show people the sites,” said event director Ben McRoberts of Transportation Alternatives.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district was included in the tour, hoped the ride could help future business.

“Not only is it healthy for all of us, but it is a great opportunity for people to see sites and small businesses that they never get to see,” said Van Bramer, who participated for the first time this year.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM TOUR DE QUEENS 

About 100 volunteer ride marshals in orange jackets followed riders to keep them on track and assist in case there were any issues. Paramedics also followed closely behind the bikers in case of medical problems.

The NYPD escorted the ride to manage the crowd and traffic and provide a safe atmosphere. Many participants felt secure with the cops guiding the tour, especially after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

“With this number of people, I guess there is a little bit of safety concern,” said Astoria cyclist Jonathan Co. “But I feel pretty safe for the most part.”

 

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Forest Park Carousel becomes official landmark


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Johann Hamilton

The century-old Forest Park Carousel will be ridden for many generations to come now that it is an official New York City landmark.

The Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) made the classic Woodhaven ride a city treasure and ensured its preservation with a unanimous 8-0 vote on Tuesday, June 25.

“This designation is long overdue, but now that it’s here, we’re thrilled,” said Edward Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. The association is one of the groups that have been fighting to get the carousel landmarked.

“With the carousel landmarked, we know it will be around for posterity, which is exactly how it should be.”
The carousel was shuttered from 2008 to 2012. Last year, New York Carousel Entertainment LLC, which also owns the carousel in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, decided to buy and revitalize it.

The carousel joins a small group of landmarked rides operating in the city. The other two are the Cyclone roller coaster and Deno’s Wonder Wheel in Coney Island.

“This is great news,” said Shirley Sullivan, a local resident. “I actually thought the carousel was a landmark all along. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be.”

But not all residents felt the same way as Sullivan.

“I know it’s been here for a while and everyone loves it and it has a lot of history,” said Mathis Johnston. “But I think the title of landmark should be saved for things with actual historical significance, not just things that have been around for a long time.”

The carousel was crafted in 1910 by master carver Daniel Carl Muller. In 1973, it was brought to Forest Park. The ride features vibrant horses, lions and tigers and paintings depicting settings in Woodhaven and other parts of Queens.

“Designating the Forest Park Carousel is a tremendous win for our community that once feared it may never spin again,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who lobbied LPC to designate the carousel. “Preserving our history strengthens our neighborhoods.”

 

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Flushing Meadows gets new volleyball courts


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The largest park in Queens now has five new volleyball courts thanks to an assist from the borough president.

“Who would have thought that Flushing Meadows, once a swamp and an ash dump, is now a flagship park in Queens,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who paid for the $450,000 project with capital discretionary funding.

The concrete courts, meant to keep players off the park’s grassy landscape, are the first of their kind on the eastern side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, officials said. Benches and handicapped-accessible paths were also installed near the nets.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski joined Marshall, Parks officials and volunteers at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday to play the inaugural game.

Nearly $89 million in capital improvements have been made to the park, the fourth largest in the city, since 2002, officials said. New additions include a dock, renovated boathouse and rain gardens.

 

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New Queens amusement park Fantasy Forest opens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Queens youngsters took the borough’s first roller coaster for a spin last week during the grand opening of a new amusement park at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The park “has been one of Queens’ premier recreation destinations ever since its creation for the 1939 World’s Fair,” said Park Administrator Janice Melnick.

Fantasy Forest opened up its five rides, including the iconic Flushing Meadows Carousel, during a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29.

Officials said the classic ride, made by merging two Coney Island carousels, was originally created for the 1963-1964 World’s Fair. It is the largest carousel in Queens.

“We are excited to provide this family attraction, the only amusement park in Queens, to the family and people of Queens,” said Director Ami Abramson of NY Carousel, which runs the merry-go-rounds at Forest Park and Flushing Meadows.

Fantasy Forest is located at 111th Street and 55th Avenue. It is open daily at 11 a.m. through August and will stay open on select days in September and October.

For park hours and pricing, visit www.fantasyforestnyc.com.

 

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MLS announces deal with Manchester City, Yankees for New York soccer team


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MLS

The announcement of a new team may be a major score for soccer officials, but it pushes back the goalposts for a new Queens stadium.

Manchester City Football Club and the Yankees are partnering up to establish the New York City Football Club (FC), officials announced today. It is Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 20th expansion team.

MLS and the partnership aim to have the squad up and running by the 2015 soccer season, The team will start by playing at a temporary venue. “This is a transformative moment for Major League Soccer and soccer in America as we welcome our 20th club called New York City Football Club,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber. “It provides us with a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls [...] rivalries drive the success in soccer around the world.”

In the partnership, England’s Manchester City FC will handle soccer operations while the Yankees will focus on establishing the team in New York.

The league spent nearly a year publicly lobbying for a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Parkland advocates have actively opposed the effort.

While the league’s talks with the city have seen ups and downs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has remained confident New York and MLS will ink a deal before his final term ends in December.

Garber said it was too soon to discuss where New York City FC will play its first season. Yankees President Randy Levine said Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were possibilities. Both venues have hosted exposition soccer matches since each opened in 2009.

“We’re competitors with the Mets, but we’re also partners with them in Major League Baseball,” Levine said. “Citi Field could be as much of a temporary site as Yankee Stadium.”

Finding a long-term home is now up to the owners, Garber said, with MLS essentially taking a back seat in the process.

Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City Football Club, said Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will still be explored as an option along with other spots in the city. He added that wherever developers go, they will actively seek community input.

“We’re well aware of the conversations with the stadium in Flushing Meadows,” Soriano said.

“The stadium has to be a success from the soccer perspective commercially” and from the community perspective, too, he added.

During the lobbying process, Garber and other MLS officials said Flushing Meadows was the ideal location for a soccer pitch. But some Queens residents have argued the league should leave the park alone and look elsewhere.

After Tuesday’s announcement, the Fairness Coalition of Queens issued a statement saying it was open to the team, but suggested using a spot that would not take away parkland.

“The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the new owners’ openness to finding a new site was a sign that a stadium in Flushing Meadows would not have worked.

“The plan to install that stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was dead on arrival,” he said.

“We’re very happy that they are now beginning to acknowledge that.”

He faulted both MLS and the mayor for their discussions to date.

“I think Major League Soccer was getting some mixed signals from the [Bloomberg] administration,” he said. “But the problem is, Major League Soccer should be ashamed of themselves, to begin with, that they should get away with this.”

 

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