Tag Archives: U.S. tennis association

Governor Cuomo approves National Tennis Center expansion in Flushing Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Dominick Totino

The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) now has the governor’s blessing to expand its prized center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday he signed legislation allowing the city to give the USTA 0.68 acres of parkland to extend the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The association’s $500 million plans include replacing the Louis Armstrong Stadium, building a new grandstand, adding two parking garages and a new row of tennis courts.

It also wants to expand public plazas and promenades to accommodate up to 10,000 more fans daily during US Open tournaments, which are held every year in August and September.

“As the site of the US Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center brings thousands of fans to New York every year, boosting our tourism industry and spurring local economic activity,” Cuomo said.

“New York is proud to showcase the biggest players in tennis at this annual event,” he continued, “and I am committed to making this facility the best it can be to attract and host more events like the US Open.”

The governor’s approval follows the City Council’s green light in late July after the USTA agreed to pledge more than $10 million to the park.

The deal also called for the USTA 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 USTA is proud of its rich history in New York, which dates back to 1915,” said USTA President Dave Haggerty. “As the world’s largest annual sporting event, the US Open is proud to bring worldwide attention to the city and state that it calls home and is pleased that this legislation will allow the longstanding tradition to continue.”

As previously promised, the association will also give the city’s Parks Department back 1.56 acres of its leased land for public use. However, park advocates criticized the swap as giving back some parts of land that were already accessible to the public.

Alfredo Centola, a founding member of the Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park advocacy group, said the governor’s approval “sets an extremely bad precedent of what’s to come.”

“While we are extremely disappointed, we’re not surprised that our government once again defies and denies the will of the people and rules in favor of large for-profit businesses,” Centola said. “This is exactly what New York has become, unfortunately.”

During the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), the six voting community boards affected by the expansion were split on the project. Borough President Helen Marshall in April ultimately recommended the project go forward.

Cuomo said the expansion, over 10 years, would create 800 construction jobs and 776 other full-time jobs for Queens residents.

Lawmakers said the project would give fans a better experience and the city’s economy a major boost.

The 2010 US Open, officials say, generated an estimated $756 million.

“The US Open is the premier sporting event in Queens, when the eyes of the world are on us,” said Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry. “This expansion will secure the excitement and tradition of world class tennis in our community and state for both today’s tennis fans and those of the future.”

USTA officials said the project still needs approval from the Parks Department and Public Design Commission before permit applications are submitted to the city’s Department of Buildings.

National Tennis Center CEO Danny Zausner said he hopes the project will begin this winter and end by 2018.

 

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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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Department of City Planning approves National Tennis Center expansions


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

The Department of City Planning approved expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Wednesday, May 22, pushing the project another step toward a final green light.

U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) officials want to expand the center’s campus in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park by 0.68 acres, build a new stadium and make renovations. The plan is headed to the City Council for the final vote on the project.

State Senators will not have to vote on the lost green space because the land in question is considered to be of little value.

Expansions at the Tennis Center have been met with opposition, as have two other projects involving the park. 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 USTA has been renting to the Parks Department.
Park advocates criticized the plan as giving back land that was already accessible to the public.

Local boards mixed on National Tennis Center expansion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of USTA

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MELISSA CHAN

Six community boards are lobbing back and forth on approving the proposed expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The boards surrounding the park are required to vote on the .68 acres lost in the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA) plan to expand in the park. Their recommendations, which are solely advisory, then go to the Borough President, the City Council and the Department of City Planning.

So far, two community boards have voted against the expansion, and one has opted in favor of it.

Community Board 9 voted 22-20 against the plan, with one abstention, after a lengthy debate at its March 13 meeting. Board member Alex Blenkinsopp said he thought many voted against it to send a message that parkland should not be given up for expansion.

“I believe the majority of Community Board 9 voted the way we did because we’re concerned about the future of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” he said. “This would have set a worrying precedent. That land, once surrendered, will never come back. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want the National Tennis Center to live within its current footprint.”

Community Board 4 also voted down the expansion. However, it said it would approve it if the USTA meets nine requests, according to District Manager Christian Cassagnol. Some of the resolutions call for better park security, a $15 million trust fund exclusively for the park, and a $500,000 per year maintenance fund that would be overseen by members of different community boards.

Community Board 7 voted 30-6 in favor of the expansion, but members also had nine conditions. The board asked the USTA to establish a $15 million capital endowment fund and an annual $300,000 expense fund for sole Flushing Meadows-Corona Park maintenance.

All damaged trees, they said, must also be replaced within the park, and there must be substantial discount programs for seniors and children living nearby.

Community Board 7 also insisted National Anthem tryouts should be held in Queens. The USTA must also work with the Department of Parks to clean and maintain the property and mitigate traffic concerns.

“The reason why we voted [yes with conditions] is because we found out that even if they didn’t want to take our conditions, they came back to the table to talk to us,” said Community Board 7 Chair Eugene Kelty. “They had a meeting in our office. They asked us if they could come in and explain what was happening after the fact. They didn’t have to, but they did.”

Community Boards 3, 6 and 8 were scheduled to vote after The Courier went to press.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Daughtry concert at Citi Field 

Multi-platinum rock band Daughtry is going to play a concert after the Mets-Dodgers game at Citi Field. Ticket prices start at $28, which includes admission to the game and the post-game concert. They are available on www.mets.com/daughtry or via phone at 718-507-TIXX (8499).

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

USTA’s parking garage proposal a double fault, local leaders say

Not every aspect of the U.S. Tennis Association’s proposed expansion in Queens is an ace right down the middle in the court of public opinion. Advocates are yelling “fault” at the proposal to build two parking garages in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, saying they have no place in the greenspace. The garages are included in the $500 million expansion plan for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center announced last month. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

MTA to improve bus service in all five boroughs, keep G train extension 

The MTA delivered good news Thursday as Chairman Joseph Lhota announced plans to add $29 million in bus, subway and commuter rail improvements, two years after major cutbacks. He says it’s doable because it’s a small percent of the MTA’s budget and business has improved. Read more: [NY1]

End ‘turnstile justice,’ pol fumes 

Strike three — you’re in! City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Peter Vallone (pictured) yesterday again called on Albany to pass the “Three Strikes, You’re In” bill, mandating prison time for anyone convicted of three misdemeanors within 10 years. The Queens Democrat renewed his call after alleged PATH-train groper Gian Verdelli, 61, of Brooklyn, was nabbed Monday in New Jersey and it turned out his record included an eye-popping 168 arrests since the 1970s, mostly for misdemeanors. Read more: [New York Post] 

Eggs snatched from protected piping plover nests in Rockaway 

Federal parks police are trying to hunt down the person who snatched eggs from two piping plover nests in Breezy Point earlier this month. The tiny, plump birds are endangered and enjoy federally protected habitats along the Rockaway peninsula. Officials think the eggs — which were discovered missing the morning of July 4 — may have been stolen by a collector. Read more: [New York Daily News]