On Wednesday, July 24, the City Council approved a controversial $500 million deal to develop an additional .68-acres of parkland, but with the USTA's agreement to engage the community through a number of outreach programs and funding for the park.
“This deal was a long time coming, and I can say with confidence that we will all benefit from this expansion,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras.
Under the agreement, by the fall of 2013 the USTA must hold quarterly presentations with local community boards, produce a bi-monthly electronic newsletter and hold meetings to inform local residents and non-profits of the availability of using the facility.
The USTA also agreed to host an annual Queens Day in the park that would take place during the U.S. Open qualifying tournament to celebrate the borough with a “Queens-centric” theme. Local families will also get discounts at the event.
“I am very proud my community got engaged and demanded a voice in this process,” Ferreras said. “This agreement puts both the USTA, [the park] and the community on a solid foundation to grow and succeed for decades to come.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who earlier this month unveiled a plan to rebuild and sustain Flushing Meadows Corona Park, said the agreement to provide funding for the park should be standard whenever public land is used fby non-public entitites.
“We must ensure that whenever private interests lease or use city parkland, those parks receive sustained and substantial funding in return,” said de Blasio.
Javier Valdes, co-executive director of Make the Road NY and member of the Fairness Coalition of Queens, said this type of engagement from the USTA is long overdue.
“We believe this agreement will put Flushing Meadows Park and the surrounding community on a more solid footing for the future,” Valdes said. “This agreement can lead to [the park] finally reaching its potential as a world-class park.”