Tag Archives: USTA

Tennis courts in land swap will still be used by USTA during Open


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Croft

The US Tennis Association (USTA) has agreed to give up some of its rented land in exchange for 0.68 acres the organization has eyed for expanding the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in an effort to placate critics of the project.

Two pieces of land make up the 1.56 acres that USTA will give back to the NYC Parks Department, according to a news release. One section spanning 0.75 acres is open access area and the remaining 0.81 acres include five tennis courts.

The deal has already drawn criticism from the project’s opponents, who pointed out the parcel of land that includes the courts was already publicly accessible. The only change involved in the deal is that the parks department will run the land.

While USTA will still maintain the courts for Parks, part of the agreement allows the organization to use the facilities during the two-week Open, according to a spokesperson.

Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, said the deal was null.

“They are swapping parkland that we already have access to for parkland that we already have access to,” he said.
USTA executives spent nearly a year lobbying for expansions on the tennis center’s southern border. The expansions would also relocate a connector road currently situated on land rented by the USTA.

But the status of the parkland, and the fact the USTA was not required to replace any lost, became a hot button issue as the project got approval.

“Understanding that every inch of parkland is precious and after seeking input and recommendations from the local Queens communities and elected officials, the USTA, in consultation with the Parks Department, decided it was in the best interest of all parties to propose a parkland swap,” said tennis center COO Danny Zausner.

The six community boards affected by the expansion were split on the project, but Borough President Helen Marshall ultimately recommended that it move forward.

During her April borough board meeting, which USTA executives attended, Marshall said parkland had to be replaced.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and shows just how much we value every acre of parkland here in Queens,” Marshall said upon the land swap becoming official. “My support for the USTA proposal was conditioned on the need to replace any alienated land in our borough’s flagship park.”

 

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USTA to give back land for National Tennis Center expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

It’s a land-for-land deal.

The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has agreed to give up some of its rented land in exchange for the 0.68 acres the organization needs to expand the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Two pieces of land make up the 1.56 acres that USTA will give back to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, according to a news release. The first 0.75 acres is open access area, with the second 0.81 acres is open recreation with five tennis courts.

USTA executives have spent nearly a year lobbying for expansions at the tennis center, which would expand the tennis center’s property to the south. Expansions would also relocate a connector road currently situated on rented land by USTA.

“At the outset of the project, the City suggested that park improvements would result in a more meaningful degree of public benefit than an in-kind replacement for the 0.68 acres that is proposed for alienation,” said Tennis Center COO Danny Zausner. “However, understanding that every inch of parkland is precious and after seeking input and recommendations from the local Queens communities and elected officials, the USTA, in consultation with the Parks Department, decided it was in the best interest of all parties to propose a parkland swap.”

Community boards were split on recommending the project going through, but Borough President Helen Marshall ultimately recommended the expansion carry on.

During her April Borough Board meeting, with USTA executive present, Marshall said parkland had to be replaced, something that was not required of the organization.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and shows just how much we value every acre of parkland here in Queens,” Marshall said upon today’s announcement. “My support for the USTA proposal was conditioned on the need to replace any alienated land in our borough’s flagship park.”

 

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Battle for your boro on the court


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USTA Eastern

Grab your racket and volley up some borough pride.

The inaugural Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge is coming to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on May 11.

Hosted by USTA Eastern, the new tournament calls for tennis aces to represent their boroughs and be the last team standing in the citywide competition at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on June 15.

Teams can register for a slot at eastern.usta.com/boroughs for $20 per player. There can be up to 10 members on a team. Each player must be at least 19 years old.

Proceeds will benefit City Parks Foundation, which gives free tennis lessons to children at 40 parks citywide.

The winning team will receive a trophy, but all participants will be given t-shirts, snacks and two free rounds of tennis.

 

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Op-Ed: Let’s not make a deal


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY GEOFFREY CROFT

In a recent op-ed (“A new alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” March 10) Councilmember Julissa Ferreras argues for the need to create a new nonprofit alliance dedicated for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP).

The alliance would collect money from the USTA and other businesses using the park and spend it exclusively on the park. Agreeing to a deal that puts money into a park fund in exchange for a yes vote, along with a few other “concessions”  is a misguided policy that would allow the USTA to expand and set the stage for more businesses to try and take more public parkland.

That is exactly what is not needed for the park.

It is the city’s legal responsibility to properly fund our public parks, not that of private businesses.

Make no mistake this is NOT like the Central Park Conservancy or the Prospect Park Alliance model as she has attempted to claim.  There is a huge difference between receiving philanthropic contributions from civic-minded people seeking nothing in return and establishing a fund explicitly created for extracting money from businesses exploiting the park.

She said she is doing this to “to help protect this irreplaceable park.”  The park does not need this type of “protection.”

A detailed plan on how this alliance model could work has already been drawn up.  It was devised with the help of a Parks Department partner group New Yorkers for Parks, in concert with the councilmember, working behind closed doors.

Despite repeated requests Ferreras has refused to voluntarily provide a copy of this plan.  For the first time in 15 years I’ve had to resort to FOILing a councilmember. This is not a good sign.

These deals only weaken communities and make it easier for the next encroachment. They also allow the very people whose job it is to properly fund and protect our public spaces off the hook.

The councilmember was correct, though, when she said the park has not received the attention and resources it deserves.

Whose fault is that? Does anyone think our elected officials are doing their jobs when FMCP has only 14 employees for a 1,200-acre park?  That’s disgraceful.

Each year our elected officials allocate a fraction of the funds desperately needed to properly maintain, operate, secure, and program our 29,000 acres of public parks.

This year is no different.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s current $70.1 billion proposed budget allocates just $ 283.2 million or o.4 % in tax levy funds for parks.

Over the last 40 years no other city agency has lost a greater percentage of its workforce than the Parks Department.  This happens year after because the public does NOT demand accountability.

The city continues to try and abdicate its responsibilities by entering in these public/private agreements that officials are not only allowing but actively encouraging.  They are increasingly resorting to these pay-to-play funding schemes.  This welfare mentality has to stop.

These deals hand over enormous power and decision making authority to these groups with little transparency and accountability on what is supposed to be public land.

We need our elected officials instead to allocate proper resources for our parks; it’s what the public pays taxes for.

Until communities begin to stand together and demand accountability from officials and “so called” park advocacy groups, the public can expect more of the same – our parks being sold out.

Geoffrey Croft is the founder and president of NYC Park Advocates, a non-profit watchdog group dedicated to improving public parks. He is also a founding member of Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a coalition of community-based civic and environmental groups opposed to the commercial encroachment of FMCP.   

 

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Borough President backs National Tennis Center expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Borough President Helen Marshall is recommending the city and state go forward with proposed expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Marshall’s Borough Board was one councilmember short at the Monday, April 8 meeting to take a vote, thus forcing her to give her ultimate “yes” recommendation.

“While the Borough Board is not voting tonight,” Marshal said. “I am submitting my formal recommendation later this week. And I can tell you that I am insisting that any alienated parkland must be replaced.”

During the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), the six voting Community Boards were split on the project. The three voting Community Boards that voted yes attached conditions mainly focused on the US Tennis Association being part of a conservancy for the park.

The plan, if approved next by the City Council and the state legislature, could begin this fall, according to USTA officials. Roughly 800 full-time construction jobs are expected for Queens workers over the six-year construction period.

While the project will only eat up about 0.68 acres of green space to the south of the Tennis Center, USTA has now promised to replace that land.

Danny Zausner, chief operating officer at the USTA, said lowering the southern border would ease foot traffic during the US Open. The relocated connector road, currently on the property leased to USTA, would now include sidewalks if the plan is approved.

Expansion at the tennis center and USTA’s community outreach have been questioned by some, however.

Councilmember Peter Koo, one of four city lawmakers at the meeting, told Zausner that small business owners in the past said they were rejected when trying to work with USTA to drive tennis fans into Flushing during the US Open.

Zausner, addressing Koo’s questions, said the association had worked with local businesses in surrounding neighborhoods, including Corona and Flushing, and had seen productive economic revenue to those areas.

But while there had been success, with Zausner pointing to the Sheraton LaGuardia East in Downtown Flushing, he said the USTA could further dialogue with more business owners.

“They [patrons] come for the day session, they run out for dinner either on the Corona side or the Flushing side, and then they come back for the night session,” Zausner said after the meeting. “As I mentioned to the councilmember, I think we’re doing a lot already but there’s no question we could be doing more.”

Borough President Helen Marshall delivers her remarks on expansion at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen)

 

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Op-Ed: What USTA means to me


| oped@queenscourier.com

JenYu

BY JENNIFER YU

I often joke with my parents that I “live at the National Tennis Center (NTC).” That’s because I play tennis there practically every morning before school and also participate in two of their afternoon tennis programs. It’s great because I get to play tennis and compete with kids who have become some of my best friends. Before and after hitting the courts, we all hang out, talk and do our homework together. It’s so much fun.

I’m really hoping that the people of Queens will support the USTA’s plan to make the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park even better than it is now.

The NTC is home to hundreds of community programs like the ones I get to participate in each year. Also, it’s a place where kids like me learn not only the rules of the game but the importance of teamwork, and it’s also where the world’s top players come for the US Open Championships. I hope to one day compete in the US Open.

I first started playing at the NTC when I was eight years old. At the time, I could never have imagined that I would become a competitive and ranked tennis player. I began playing in one of the NTC’s summer camps. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I got training every day. I improved my strokes and made new friends. It was awesome.

I now play in national and regional tournaments and am ranked 12th in the USTA’s Eastern Section’s 12’s age division. I owe a lot of that to the NTC for helping me become the competitive player I am today.

The NTC also helped me grow as a person. Before I began playing tennis at the NTC, I was pretty shy. But after winning some matches on the court, along with daily encouragement and support from my coaches and fellow tennis buddies, my confidence and self-esteem began to soar.

Tennis has become a really important part of my life and the NTC is the place where it all happens. It’s like a second home to me. I’ve met so many great people at the NTC, and I couldn’t be happier. I get to train with the top players in the Eastern Section and receive some of the best coaching in New York. What could be better!

Thanks to the NTC, I can also continue my training during the winter. Through the USTA’s training program (in partnership with the New York Junior Tennis League), competitive players like myself receive coaching, and many program participants go on to earn academic and/or tennis scholarships to college.

I ask the residents of Queens to support the USTA project because the NTC exposes kids like me to the great sport of tennis and also makes it affordable for us.

 

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Borough President candidates making the rounds


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.

 

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PHOTOS: Easter egg hunts at National Tennis Center, Ozone Howard Little League field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_1570

Ahead of the Easter holiday, two Easter egg hunts took place last weekend. One at the Ozone Howard Little League field on Saturday, March 23, and another at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Sunday, March 24.

Here are some photos from the events:

 

Ozone Howard Little League field
(Photos courtesy of Howie Kamph)

 

National Tennis Center
(Photos courtesy of USTA)

 

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Votes split on USTA expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of USTA

The votes are in on the much-debated expansions to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and the results are mixed.

Half of the six voting Community Boards are in favor of the US Tennis Association (USTA) moving 0.68 acres out of its current property — so long as the organization meets certain conditions set by each board.

Board 6 voted 21-6 and Board 8 26-8 in favor on Wednesday, March 13; Communty Board 3 voted 33-1 against the next night. The six advisory decisions will now go to Borough President Helen Marshall, who has 60 days to decide on the expansions. Marshall’s decision then goes to the City Council and the City Planning Commission.

Marshall will hold a forum on the plan April 4 at Borough Hall. The Borough Board, led by Marshall, will vote on the plan April 8.

Two boards voted against the proposal last week, one of which could switch to yes if USTA meets nine regulations — similar to those set by other boards — including setting up a conservancy for the park. Community Board 7 voted yes, but with eight conditions, on March 11.

Each board has recommended USTA discount court prices for seniors and children, and invest in the park’s crumbling facilities.

“Community Board review was the first step in a multi-layered governmental review process that also includes the borough president, City Planning, City Council and State Legislature,” said Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue as we move through the different phases.”

Parkland advocates against the plan, however, say they’re going to continue informing residents of the downside of the plans. “I think the community boards’ vote will have no impact whatsoever on the BP’s vote or the City Council members,” said NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. “They seem perfectly willing to give away additional parkland to this private business for concessions.”

 

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Local boards mixed on National Tennis Center expansion


By Queens Courier Staff | 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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Op-Ed: A new alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

With public review of the National Tennis Center’s proposed expansion in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP) well under way, it is time to set our sights on the future of what is the largest and most important open space for the residents of Queens.

Having spent my whole life in and around FMCP, I can attest to the fact that it has not received the attention and resources a park of its size and high utilization deserves.

Although I am sensitive to the budgetary and staffing constraints the Parks Department faces, it must be pointed out that unlike most communities in the city, we in Queens have private entities that greatly benefit from our public space.

After engaging in numerous conversations with the park’s stakeholders, I have come to the conclusion that we must establish a new nonprofit alliance dedicated to FMCP.  I see this as the best way to ensure the community has the quality park it deserves for future generations to enjoy.

Despite hosting upwards of 20,000 people from organized soccer leagues every week, our beloved park only has a quarter of the staff of Prospect Park, though it is more than double in size.

Additionally, Central Park, which is smaller than FMCP, has nearly eight times as many workers.

Our parkland is precious. FMCP is the Central Park of Queens.  It is the heart and lungs of our community.

If a public-private partnership akin to the Prospect Park Alliance and the Central Park Conservancy were to be created, FMCP would be better positioned to attract new revenue streams and incorporate direct community input.

The FMCP alliance board, which will be comprised of a healthy mix of local residents and representatives from the corporations inhabiting the park, will be able to work with the Parks Department in determining how private funds would be best spent for the benefit of the community.

In the immediate term, the alliance would provide a vehicle to which corporate entities operating in and benefiting from the park, such as the USTA and the Mets, could commit financial support for the ongoing care of the park, augmenting the Parks Department’s budget.

My vision for the alliance is to allow its members to represent the voice of our community and be a part of the park’s governance. I look forward to achieving a healthy collaborative effort wherein the alliance can receive funds from private sources to increase FMCP’s dedicated staff and resources it so desperately needs.

Every stakeholder I have spoken to – from the organizations who want to build in the park and local business owners to the soccer leagues and park advocacy groups – agrees that FMCP needs a new alliance, and it needs it now.

As this community is being asked to consider three major development projects in and next to FMCP, we ask the Parks Department and the City to look at these three projects holistically, consider their cumulative impact on the park, and commit to creating an alliance that will help protect this irreplaceable park.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is the chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Committees on Parks and Recreation, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Finance and Health.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of snow and rain, then snow and rain in the afternoon. High of 43. Windy. Winds from the NE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Wednesday night: Overcast with snow and rain, then snow after midnight. Low of 32F with a windchill as low as 19. Windy. Winds from the NNE at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Chance of snow 80% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.

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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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Tennis officials, opponents talk on proposed expansion to National Tennis Center


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

BY MELISSA CHAN & TERENCE M. CULLEN

While tennis reps continue lobbying for expansion in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, residents from around the borough came out in full force against the proposal Monday, February 11 at Community Board 7’s monthly meeting.

“Our parks were developed for the use of the public. It’s where the citizens can gather with their families and their neighbors to enjoy the beauty of nature,” said John Kelly, a Flushing resident who lives by Kissena Park. “These people […] look at the green spaces and have desires to make a buck for themselves at our expense.”

Unites States Tennis Association (USTA) officials have proposed building a new stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The project includes moving a connector road from the park within the center’s leased land and several courts south in order to ease foot traffic. It would also take away .68 acres more parkland than what is in USTA’s updated 1993 lease.

Several local residents said the land grab would be a steal of taxpayer property and money. “There is no reason to be intimidated by the USTA,” said resident Ben Haber. “There is no justification for the USTA’s request other than they want to make more money.”

Haber said sports arenas do little to boost the city’s economy. The taking, he said, would be as “worthless as a dead tennis ball.”

The development would also add to the air and noise population that plagues the borough, residents said.

“All this overbuilding is an unnecessary and unacceptable takeaway from the Flushing community,” said Elizabeth Lee of Flushing. “We need parks, not more stadiums, not more malls.”

But USTA officials and union workers spoke to the benefits of the project at a recent Community Board 9 meeting. They said thousands of union construction jobs would be created and an additional 10,000 tennis fans a day would visit when the U.S. Open is in session.

Jack Leone, a union electrical worker, said he has done work regularly at the Tennis Center for the past eight years. “We live in a tough economy,” Leone said. “So I am grateful for the regular work I get at the [National Tennis Center], which has a long history of hiring local union workers.”

Ted Newkirk, a project manager for union plumbers and steamfitters, said further expansions and maintenance thereafter would continue to provide jobs. “The National Tennis Center has a long history of hiring local union workers,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday Night: Clear. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

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Philadelphia police are investigating reports of a sexual assault that may have involved a Brooklyn Nets team member. Read more: NY1 

2012 was hottest year on record in U.S., climate agency says

The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, beating the previous record by a full degree in temperature, a government climate agency said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters