On Wednesday, July 24, the City Council voted to approve the United States Tennis Association’s application to lease 0.68 acres to expand the National Tennis Center (NTC) in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In response to comments from Council Member Julissa Ferreras, whose district encompasses the Tennis Center, the United States Tennis Association has agreed to make a fiscal commitment to the park and engage the local community through a number of outreach programs.
“I’m happy to announce that we have reached a deal on the $500 million project to expand the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” Council Member Ferreras said. “This deal was a long time coming and I can say with confidence that we will all benefit from this expansion. I am very proud that my community got engaged and demanded a voice in this process. This agreement puts both the USTA, Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the community on a solid foundation to grow and succeed for decades to come. Very early in the process, I clearly laid the outlines of what the USTA had to do to work with the community. They needed to address their current behavior and their future impact on the park and the community. I am happy that they were able to do that. I look forward to working with the USTA to improve the park for everyone.”
As part of the plan reached, the USTA has agreed to allocate $10.05 million for improvements to enhance public safety and contribute to the overall maintenance of the park. In addition to this, they will also deliver the following:
Quarterly Presentations to Community Boards – The USTA will brief Community Boards with jurisdiction over Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) on a quarterly basis on events and full and part-time job opportunities at the NTC. Through this process the USTA will develop a closer relationship with CB members, community organizations and the public. The USTA will begin this program in the fall of 2013.
Bi-monthly “Upcoming Events” Newsletter – The USTA will produce a bi-monthly electronic newsletter beginning in the fall of 2013 directed to the local community which highlights current and upcoming events, program offerings and full and part-time job opportunities at the NTC. The USTA will work with community boards, and local and state elected officials to obtain email addresses and to highlight the newsletter on community board and local and state elected official websites. In addition, the USTA will conduct outreach to local community-based organizations to seek newsletter subscribers.
Annual Queens Day – The USTA will convene key local stakeholders to plan and institute a Queens Day in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This program will begin in the summer of 2014 and annually thereafter. The USTA envisions identifying one day during the US Open qualifying tournament as Queens Day. Additionally, the earliest Queens families to pass through the NTC’s gates will receive a meal card entitling them to a discount towards food and beverage purchases at the food village. Queens day will be “Queens-centric,” and the NTC will look to play host to local Queens bands and other entertainment reflecting the diversity of Queens and its culture. There will also be an opportunity to participate in tennis-related games and activities. In the days preceding Queens Day, the USTA will look to find available locations in Queens for the “SmashZone” mobile tour to draw participants to Queens Day and the tournament.
Annual Anthem Singer Auditions in Flushing/Corona – The USTA will hold auditions annually for US Open anthem singers in Queens, provided that anthem singers are used at the US Open and the USTA receives a minimum of 35 attendees at the prior year’s audition. The USTA will work with community boards, local and state elected officials, local schools and local media outlets to increase participation in the audition process. Future media outreach will include Bengali, Chinese and Spanish language media.
Annual US Open Job Fair Exclusively for Queens Residents – The USTA will hold a job fair annually in Queens, for Queens residents to provide information as to the availability of jobs before, during and after the US Open. The USTA will work with community boards, local and state elected officials, the Queens Economic Development Corp., local schools and local media outlets, including Bengali, Chinese and Spanish language media to promote the job fair.
NTC as Site to Host School Graduations – The USTA will work with local schools to offer the opportunity to hold their commencement ceremonies, at cost and subject to space availability, at the NTC. The USTA will begin with graduations in 2014 and work with local schools to continue this program annually.
NTC Classroom and Facility Accessibility – Based on availability, beginning in the fall of 2013, the USTA will make meeting space available at no cost to local community boards, local business improvement districts and local non-profits. The USTA will also inform local non-profits of the options available in using NTC facilities, at cost, for non-profit fundraisers.
Arthur Ashe Kids Day (AAKD) Stadium Show – The USTA will distribute 5,000 complimentary tickets, so long as the event takes place, directly to community groups based on input of community boards and elected officials, giving Queens children an opportunity to enjoy a free day of fun at the NTC topped off with a concert. The USTA will continue this practice for August 24th, 2013 AAKD as it has in the past, and will work with CBs, local and state elected officials local schools and the New York Junior Tennis and Learning to conduct this annually.
Community Tennis Programs – The USTA commits to a new program, at the NTC where, for a nominal fee, an entire family can get coaching from USTA tennis pros and play tennis. The USTA will provide all the equipment needed to learn and enjoy tennis and then connect kids and seniors and those interested in tennis to the ongoing free and low cost programs already available at the NTC. The program will commence summer 2013 – July 6, 13, 20, 27; thereafter programs will be scheduled based on interest. The USTA will work with CBs, offices of local and state officials, local schools and local media outlets including Bengali, Chinese and Spanish language media to advertise the availability of the program.
The families who respond to the community outreach efforts for the first time will receive a coupon for discounts towards future court time (based on court availability) and the USTA will encourage participants to sign up for the proposed newsletter for further updates. Future communication with the families will inform them of the opportunities available through the NTC’s community programs, which currently includes:
NYJTL Early Morning Winter Program
City Parks Foundation- Reebok Junior Program
Year-round Community Tennis Program
Long Island/Metro Tennis Expo
NTC Summer Junior Tennis Camp
US Open Ball Person Tryouts
HERO – Help Expand Recreational Opportunities
Spring/Fall Outdoor Early Morning Kids/Family Playday and Clinics
Adaptive Tennis Programs – The USTA will continue to operate its wheelchair tennis practice at the NTC so long as interest exists. The USTA will endeavor to continue its adaptive tennis tournaments and will partner with the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities to continue the popular program.
Summer Movie Screening Series – In coordination with other park institutions, the USTA will host movie screenings that are open to the public free of charge. This program will begin upon completion of the new Grandstand stadium. The USTA will work with local CBs, local and state elected officials, institutions located within FMCP, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreations.
Annual US Open Job Fair at NTC – The USTA will continue its practice of convening US Open vendors at the NTC to fill job opportunities at the US Open. USTA will continue to conduct outreach to local communities through local media and is committed to conducting this event annually. The USTA will work with CBs, local and state elected officials, Queens Economic Development Corporation and local media outlets Bengali, Chinese and Spanish language media.
Help Local Businesses Benefit More From the US Open and Help Plan for the Future of Roosevelt Avenue – The USTA will work with local business leaders to develop strategies to connect local businesses to US Open patrons and vendors will be an active partner in the discussions on improving the Roosevelt Avenue corridor. Starting in the summer of 2013, the USTA will join existing efforts and work with CBs, local and state elected officials, institutions located within the Park, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Queens Chamber of Commerce, local BIDs and local businesses.
Local Offerings Kiosk at US Open – Building on ongoing efforts, the USTA will work with local business leaders to better communicate local food, hotel and cultural offerings near the NTC to US Open patrons and will continue this practice for future US Open tournaments. The USTA will work with CBs, local and state elected officials, institutions located within the Park, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Queens Chamber of Commerce, local BIDs and local businesses.
ACES (10 and under free tennis clinics) – USTA will continue its highly successful program of offering local elementary schools the opportunity to visit the NTC for a day, free of cost, to learn more youth tennis and the lives of Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe. Select participants will also win a free scholarship to NTC summer camps. The USTA will conduct this annually during the school year in partnership with local elementary schools.
Annual Council District 21 Tennis and Health Event – The USTA will continue to support the event that brings youth from Corona to the NTC. The event promotes healthy choices in and out of school and offers tennis as a way to physical fitness. The USTA anticipates holding the program in October 2013 and annually thereafter in coordination with the office of Council Member Julissa Ferreras with jurisdiction over the NTC, other local and state elected officials, community leaders and schools serving youth from Corona.
With the announcement of the agreement, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and local park advocates, including New Yorkers for Parks, Make the Road New York and the Fairness Coalition of Queens, lauded Council Member Ferreras for her efforts.
“I want to congratulate Council Member Julissa Ferreras on all her work with the expansion of the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. She skillfully incorporated the needs of her community into the expansion plan,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The tennis center is an important economic engine that generates $750 million in revenue annually for the city and close to 6,000 seasonal jobs – 85% of which are filled by New York City residents. The project will also generate 800 construction jobs. Council Member Ferreras deserves a lot of credit for helping to negotiate an agreement that is good for Queens and good for New York.”
“Today’s approval heralds a new era for Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” said Holly Leicht, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Council Member Ferreras has fought tirelessly for her community and its precious resources, resulting in an unprecedented, long-term investment by the USTA in the borough’s most popular park.”
“We believe this agreement will put FMCP and the surrounding community on a more solid footing for the future,” said Javier Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY and a member of the Fairness Coalition of Queens. ”For too long FMCP has been ignored and underfunded. Today, that legacy begins to change. This is the first major investment from a tenant of the park in decades. We believe this will be a win-win partnership. This agreement can lead to FMCP finally reaching its potential as a world-class park.”
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