I attended the original meetings and hearings, and everyone agreed the area needed development as it was a polluted mess of junkyards and car repair shops with no sewer lines. There was just concern about relocating the businesses and fair compensation.
The idea of adding the shopping mall came much later when the developers said they needed the mall to finance the Willets Point project, and this is where the problem lies.
If you visit nyc.gov, you can find the Willets Point project in great detail, and nowhere is there a shopping mall in the parking lot. The developers claims that the Mets don't need the parking lot and there is enough parking in surrounding areas.
Yes, there are many parking lots in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, maybe too many, but why then during big events are all the lots filled? And why are there grassy areas that have been paved over for parking and why are there cars, buses and emergency vehicles parking on the grass?
Flushing Meadows should be the crown jewel of Queens parks, being the site of two World's Fairs and museum, theater, pool and ice skating rink, ball fields and the largest lake in New York City.
With all the special events, Citi Field and the US Open, you would think Queens would have a world-class park right up there with Central and Prospect parks, but what we have is a neglected and much-abused park.
Structures like the Aquacade from the first fair were torn down, and the NYS Pavilion from the second fair is falling apart. The lake is polluted, the paths are under water, and from the park all you can see is the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck and Long Island expressways.
This is one of the most used parks in the city, but it's not getting its fair share of support from the city.
A shopping mall will only bring more traffic to the park and add to an already congested area. Look at the developments in Flushing, with all of the high rises and big stores and the traffic on Roosevelt Avenue and College Point Boulevard now, and this is just the beginning.
And there are plans to develop along Flushing Creek as well as the original development proposed for Willets Point.
Do we really need another mall taking business away from the existing malls and small businesses in the area? From a business prospective, this mall is a bad idea.
This parking lot is also used for many events, such as the Big Apple Circus and community events with games and rides. If the Mets don't need the lot, maybe it should be returned as a green space to absorb the air and noise pollution of all the highways and LaGuardia Airport.
We must think about what a future Queens will look like. With all of the development, these people are going to need parkland to relax and play. Imagine the foresight city planners had when Central Park was made, can you imagine New York City without it?
There was over the years many plans to develop Central Park. What do you think the reaction would be if there was a plan to build a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall in Central or Prospect park?
Richard Polgar is a resident of Maspeth.