Tag Archives: U.S. Open

State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.

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Where to play tennis in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao

The U.S. Open is not the only place to play tennis in Queens. In honor of the end of the tournament, here are places where you can work on your serve, backhand and other racket skills in the borough, from private clubs to city park courts. 

 

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Flushing Meadow-Corona Park

The location of the U.S. Open, it also offers several different tennis programs, including junior tennis camps, adult lessons and private instruction with certified tennis professionals.

BumbleBee Tennis
21st Street, Astoria, 347-284-6061

There are lessons for kids starting at 2-years-old, instruction for adults, even beginners, and a cardio tennis program.

CityView Racquet Club
43-34 32nd Place, Long Island City, 718-389-6252

At this private club members can play tennis, squash or enjoy its fitness area, full service spa, juice bar, cocktail lounge and outdoor deck with a skyline view of Manhattan.

Cunningham Tennis Center
196-00 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, 718-740-6800

It has a junior development program beginning at 4-years-old, various lessons for adults, and private or semi-private lessons seven days a week.

North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club
34-28 214th Place, Bayside, 718-229–9579

This tennis club has Har-Tru tennis courts, two platform tennis courts, lit for night play year-round and two squash courts, as well as lessons from tennis pros.

NYC Parks tennis courts
Various locations throughout Queens

Throughout the borough, you can play at one of the many tennis courts located at city parks and playgrounds. Some can be set aside by reservation and others are open to walk-ons.

West Side Tennis Club
1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills, 718-268-2300

The West Side Tennis Club has 38 courts with many different surfaces, including Har-Tru, red clay and Deco Turf, and bubble and platform tennis courts for when the weather gets cold.

Youth and Tennis Academy
Various locations in Queens, 718-658-6728

Tennis instruction is offered throughout the year for pre-school through high school aged children at different facilities in Queens.

 

 

Game’s still on at West Side Tennis Club


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao

BY SHAMANTH RAO

The rhythmic thwacks of tennis balls hit by wooden rackets resounded once again across the grass courts at the West Side Tennis Club on a recent Saturday morning amid the rumble of the occasional passing Long Island Railroad train.

Some 35 years after the U.S. Open ended its six-decade run at the fabled Forest Hills tennis haven, players took to the courts on August 18 for the first edition of the Evian Wood Racquet Cup. The event, which came just over a week before the start of the U.S. Open in Flushing, marked part of an effort to revive tennis at the historic venue with everything from new tournaments to lessons for children.

“This event is a great way to remember the past in a relaxed and fun way,” said Jason Zone Fisher, who was master of ceremonies for the Evian Cup.

The member-owned West Side Tennis Club is a long way from its heyday, which ended with the United State Tennis Association’s decision to move the Open to a more modern facility in Flushing Meadows in 1978, a year after Guillermo Vilas and Chris Evert won the event. The Club stayed alive by hosting the Tournament of Champions in the 1980s, and subsequently housing smaller tournaments.

In recent years, financial issues – including upkeep of the near-century-old complex – forced Club leaders to explore selling the property. A $10 million deal to sell to condo developer Cord Meyer was rejected by members in 2010, much to the relief of many tennis fans.

In May 2011, the Landmark Preservation Commission rejected a bid to landmark the complex’s 15,000-seat tennis stadium “due to the deteriorated state of the building’s architectural features.”

Bob Ingersole, tennis director of the West Side Tennis Club, said the Club’s finances have “gone from poor to improving to stable.”

“We are now in the black,” he said, declining to offer more details or discuss other sale possibilities.

The Club has worked to increase its member base, Ingersole said, attracting more than 100 new members in recent months and bringing in more tournaments. In late August, the club held the Nesquik “Little Mo” International Open for kids, an event that featured appearances by Max Mirnyi and the Bryan brothers.

While it’s trying to keep up with the times, the West Side Tennis Club still feels right out of a past age. Colorful parasols, white chairs, fading photographs and polished name boards stand amid meticulously trimmed grass courts.

Bitsy Metcalf, who grew up learning tennis in New Orleans and wants to start playing regularly again, enjoyed the wood racquet retro-themed Evian Cup.

“I’d love to come back,” said Metcalf, 29.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 72. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight

EVENT of the DAY: Family Karaoke Night at Manducatis Rustica

At this Long Island City restaurant’s karaoke night there are over 40,000 songs to choose from plus $5 specialty drinks for adults and gelato for kids of all ages. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brazen thief steals 2 silver Torah crowns from Queens synogogue during evening services

Two valuable silver Torah crowns were stolen from a Queens synagogue during evening prayer services, police said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Councilman proposes emergency lane along Queens Boulevard

While traffic on Queens Boulevard can be frustrating for drivers, one official says it may be causing bigger problems. Read more: NY1

Cagey peacock ruffles Queens cops’ feathers

They can rappel down skyscrapers, rescue plane-crash survivors from an icy river, and go toe-to-toe with terrorists.But elite NYPD Emergency Service Unit cops were outsmarted yesterday by a plucky peacock that has made a Queens neighborhood his home away from home for the past week. Read more: New York Post

Busted pipe slowly turning freshwater ponds salty in Broad Channel

A busted drain pipe and valve system is slowly ruining the ecology of Jamaica Bay, driving away birds that usually breed along two freshwater ponds. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: U.S. Open ref arrested in connection with husband’s death

Sources say that police arrested a U.S. Open tennis referee Tuesday who is a suspect in her husband’s death. Read more: NY1

NYPD: Muslim spying led to no leads, terror cases

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday. Read more: AP

Blasting goes awry along 2nd Avenue subway; buildings, sidewalk damaged

Blasting along Manhattan’s still-under-construction 2nd Avenue subway line caused some damage Tuesday afternoon. Now, authorities want to know if human error was to blame. Read more: CBS New York

Searching for a new neighbor on ‘Sesame Street’

“Sesame Street” held its first-ever open casting call in New York this week to find its newest neighbor — a Hispanic character to reflect the long-running show’s increasingly diverse audience. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

BC/WSJ poll: Heading into conventions, Obama has four-point lead 

After Mitt Romney selected his vice presidential running mate, and just days before the political conventions kick off next week, President Barack Obama maintains his advantage in the race for the White House, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Read more: NBC news

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 5 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind 7 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Friday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

EVENT of the DAY: “Knocked Up” at Rufus King Park

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up. It’s anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there’s more to her baby’s daddy than she originally thought.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teacher sues over ‘preach’ of contract

A veteran public-school teacher who was canned for calling students “racist” and referring to herself as a “Messenger of God” is suing to get her job back. Dr. Patricia Missick, who had been fined and reprimanded several years ago for verbally abusing students and for incompetence, riled eighth-graders at JHS 189 in Queens by repeatedly mentioning her close ties to God. Read more: NY Post

Carriage horse bucks itself free near Central Park, sends driver, 2 passengers spilling into street

A runaway carriage horse wreaked havoc during the start of rush hour Thursday afternoon, unhitching himself and running off before hitting a parked car near Columbus Circle. A man and woman were enjoying a ride around the popular tourist spot around 4:20 p.m. when the driver tried to merge into traffic at the circle, witnesses said. Read more: Daily News

Banned soccer players can now use Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during U.S. Open

The city banned thousands of amateur soccer players from using Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during the U.S. Open — and then back-pedalled following a Daily News inquiry. Soccer leagues, primarily made up of immigrants, have used the fields for decades but were informed earlier this year that they would not be allowed to use the park from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10. Read more: Daily News

Romney says he paid at least 13% in taxes for last ten years

Mitt Romney has paid no less than 13 percent in personal income taxes over the past ten years, he said Thursday. The presumptive GOP nominee has faced withering criticism from Democrats over the release of his tax returns, including a charge by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that Romney had paid no taxes for a ten year period. Read more: NY1

NYC report critical of public housing agency

The city’s public housing authority is beset by inefficient management and bureaucratic practices that contribute to a growing repair backlog of hundreds of thousands of work orders, a city-hired consultant said in a report made public Thursday. City Housing Authority Commissioner John Rhea said following the release that he will seek to overhaul the agency’s board, and officials stressed that some of the recommended changes in the report by The Boston Consulting Group were already under way. Read more: NBC New York

 

Tennis Center parking plans not met with Love


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Phil Hertling

Officials and advocates are currently volleying parking plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Designs for new structures to relieve parking problems at the center will not breach the area allocated to the U.S. Open rented from the city, a Tennis Association representative said. But park advocates say that any new, permanent construction is too much.

Some became vocal about the recently-announced plans to revamp the center — expected to begin next fall — arguing that adding parking spaces to the plan would infringe on the green space of the borough’s largest park, and convert public space into commercial.

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said plans to expand on parking would not affect any additional areas of the park; rather, parking structures are expected to be built on the center’s existing lots.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said. “The most critical thing is we’re not impacting the spot in a footprint perspective.”

The two lots the center currently has, Zausner said, accommodate a little more than 300 spots. With one lot getting a two-tiered structure, and the other a three-tiered, the center will be able to park about 800 cars total. That is still a stretch for the thousands of people the center sees a day when the U.S. Open takes place, Zausner said.

Green space supporters, however, said even building a structure was too much. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the Tennis Center was still violating its rental agreement with the city.

“This isn’t a commercial area,” he said. “It’s public park and most certainly [parking garages] will encourage more cars to come in.”

Kim Ohanian, third vice chair of Community Board 7 and head of the board’s Parks Committee, said bringing more cars in would also have an environmental effect on the park.

Ohanian added that the Tennis Center needed to promote taking mass transit as opposed to driving when attending the U.S. Open.

The center had some 600 spots allocated at what is now World Ice Arena, but lost the site when ground broke on the project more than 10 years ago. Since then, the city did not compensate for parking, aside from city parking in Shea Stadium’s parking lot. When Citi Field was completed, however, the Mets took full control of the parking, Zausner said.

Development up throughout Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

willets3w

Temperatures are not the only thing that’s been skyrocketing this summer.

Development in Queens has been booming in the borough, with announcements of major projects, the near-completion of others, and talks of even more to come.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on June 14 the long-awaited, finalized plans for a Willets Point facelift that is expected to bring more than 12,000 union construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs.

The project includes a 200-room hotel and 30,000-square-feet of retail space on what is now the Iron Triangle, a 20-acre convertible recreational area, and a 200-store shopping area on what is currently the west parking lot of Citi Field.

Roughly $3 billion in private investment will go into this project, as well as $100 million in city capital that will go toward demolition and permanent improvements. In turn, the overhaul of the area is expected to bring an estimated $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years.

It was announced the same day that the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open, will undergo its own expansions and renovations.

The Louis Armstrong Stadium, which currently holds about 10,000 fans, will be replaced — in the same spot — with an updated stadium that will hold 15,000 fans and include administrative and broadcast spaces.

The Grandstand Stadium will be built in the southwest corner of the center, holding some 8,000 spectators.

The renovations, which are expected to begin in the fall of 2013, are expected to bring an extra 10,000 tennis fans to the center per day during the U.S. Open.

Following the announcements for the Tennis Center, Borough President Helen Marshall said this was a step forward for both Queens and the Tennis Center, which employs 6,000 with seasonal jobs, according to the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA).

Marshall said that this would further the already robust revenue the National Championship brings to Queens.

“For generations the borough of Queens has played host to the U.S. Open, a world class sporting event and a major economic catalyst for our city,” she said. “I look forward to working with the USTA to ensure that the new additions to the National Tennis Center bring the maximum benefit to the people of the borough of Queens.”

Sixty acres of downtown Flushing waterfront would also be revitalized as part of the state’s Department of State Brownfield Opportunity Areas program.

The proram consists of mixed use projects over the next 10 years, including recreational, commercial, entertainment and residential portions.

And sailing west, another waterfront in Queens might get a revamp of its own.

The Hallets Point project could break ground as early as the fall of 2013, the Daily News reported. The process would reshape seven acres of Astoria waterfront and see around 2,200 housing units throughout seven towers, along with a supermarket and a park along the East River.

Lincoln Equities Group, the developer of the project, has agreed to set aside 20 percent of the units for affordable housing aimed at seniors, a project official told the Daily News. The site will be located close to the Astoria Houses, a public housing complex.

The Briarwood Organization is currently adding to its plaza on Bell Boulevard that will be home to business and medical offices. The site, located at 36-29 Bell Boulevard, is the most recent of several structures the century-old development company has built on Bell Boulevard. The building is expected to open September 2013, Briarwood partners said.

To the south, a new center that looks to spark development, creativity and understanding is in its last stages of completion.

A new center for New York Families of Austic Children is expected to open this September, said NYFAC CEO Andrew Baumann. The center will be home to programs ranging from drama to expression for children and adults with autism, Baumann said, along with support groups and educational programs for parents and family members.

The new center will be at 164-14 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

And as ground is being broken or the final cornerstone is laid, plans for even further development in the borough are still in the works.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has opened four Requests For Proposals (RFPs) throughout the city — one of which is located in College Point.

The 40,000-square-foot rectangular lot is in the northeast portion of the area’s Corporate Park, which currently houses more than 200 corporations employing approximately 6,000 employees.

And in recent weeks there have been talks of bringing a new Major League Soccer (MLS) Stadium — and new team — to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The stadium, it has been reported, would sit some 20,000 to 25,000 soccer fans in one of the borough’s largest parks. Assemblymember Francisco Moya said the project would have multiple benefits for the borough, both economically and culturally.

The potential project — still in its earliest stages, according to the assemblymember — would be privately financed, not affecting taxpayers. As part of any deal, Moya said, the developer would renovate the several soccer fields in the park now.

Moya also noted the large soccer culture not just in Queens, but in the park. The devout FC Barcelona fan said he learned the game in Flushing Meadows as a child and has played there since.

“That’s where my dad took me to play,” he said. “That’s where I played my whole life.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Heat Brings Outages, Voltage Reductions To Some; Fun To Others

The second day of near-triple-digit temperatures brought power outages and voltage reductions to thousands across the city. As of 10 p.m. Thursday evening, Con Edison is reporting more than 2,500 outages across the five boroughs. 1,019 of those outages are in Brooklyn, while 906 are in Queens. Read more: [NY1]

Cuffs for big bro, 23, who ‘lost’ li’l bro, 5

A Queens boy learned the hard way he can’t count on his big brother. Zackary Nazario, 5, was missing for more than eight hours after he was frightened out of his South Ozone Park home by a cockroach — while his baby-sitting 23-year-old brother was out buying a beer. Read more: [New York Post]

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall launches gun buy-back program 

The all-too-frequent sound of gunfire in one Queens precinct has been heard in Borough Hall. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, responding to an alarming number of shootings in Jamaica’s 113th Precinct, has come up with $50,000 for a gun buy-back program on Saturday. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Queens Residents Complain Horse Manure From Riding School Leaving A Stinky Mess.

In the midst of oppressive heat, a Queens neighborhood with aquaint view of horses has become overwhelmed by the smell of them. Lynne’s Riding School in Forest Hills is a little stable tucked into a corner of the big city. They have been offering lessons for 65 years, but, lately, the old stable has been the subject of complaints from newer neighbors.Read more: [1010wins]

 U.S. Open Holds Ball Person Tryouts

Hundreds of hopefuls tried out to be ballboys and ballgirls at the U.S. Open Thursday. Battling sweltering temperatures, contestants from all over the city lined up outside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for a shot at one of the 80 available positions. United States Tennis Association officials evaluated the competition on their running, throwing and catching skills. Read more: [NY1]

Queens high school violinist seeks to play his way from an F-train platform to a concert stage 

 

At a time when high school students are struggling to find part-time gigs in the tough economy, a 19-year-old Queens violinist is tapping into his pursuit of virtuosity to create a college fund. Yut Chia, who is graduating from Bayside High School this month, has been filling subway platforms with his bitter-sweet classical renditions since he was a junior and hopes to raise funds to keep up his musical pursuit. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Long Island City library installs snack and soda vending machines

A cash-strapped Queens library has found an unusual way to raise revenue: selling soda, chips and candy. The Queens Library recently installed two vending machines stocked with unhealthy snacks near the entrance of its Long Island City branch. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Cops collar man accused of killing ex-wife and going over to bodega for beer and Band-Aids

 

The man wanted for killing his ex-wife in Queens before strolling to a nearby bodega to buy a Coors Light and Band-Aids was arrested Thursday, police and witnesses said. Maximiliano Lozada, 34, of Elmhurst, pummeled Luz Paulino, 33, and stabbed her repeatedly around 10:50 p.m. Monday, police said. Read more: [New York Daily News]

National Tennis Center In Queens To Raise Money For Major Overhaul

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators to the U.S. Open each year, and the people behind the center say they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to keep it at the top of its game. Read more: [NY1]

School Prohibits Fifth-Grader From Giving Speech On Same-Sex Marriage

Kameron Slade worked on his speech with his mother and his teacher after winning a class competition. He was slated to deliver it in a school-wide contest at PS 195. That’s no longer going to happen. His mother, who doesn’t want to be identified, said the principal told her the topic is inappropriate. Read more: [NY1]

11 yrs. in fatal baby shake

A Queens baby sitter accused of shaking a crying 3-month-old boy so hard during the blizzard of December 2010 that he died a week later copped a plea yesterday. Read more: [New York Post]