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Know Your Rights
Source: Capital New York
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Flushing Meadows Parks Alliance Emerges, After a Long Wait

Nearly two and a half years after a Queens councilwoman convinced the United States Tennis Association to commit millions of dollars to help underwrite a privately-funded conservancy for Queens’ largest park, that conservancy has finally taken shape.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras will announce the creation of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance.

At 900 acres, Flushing Meadows is Queens’ largest park. It is bigger than both Manhattan’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, but not nearly as well financed. (It shows.)

And so, when in the summer of 2013, the USTA wanted to get City Council approval to expand its footprint within the park, Ferreras demanded recompense — that the tennis association famous for its lavish sporting events put money into maintaining the park it occupies.

The USTA ultimately acquiesced, agreeing to support the creation of a public-private partnership to better maintain the park, and invest $10.05 million in the park over the course of more than 20 years.

That was supposed to include $5 million for capital projects; $350,000 a year for three years for maintenance and programming, and then $200,000 a year for the ensuing 20 years.

City officials and the USTA say those numbers remain the same.

“Flushing Meadow Corona Park is a crown jewel of the city’s parks department, and we’re proud to announce the launch of an alliance that will help promote and enhance this beloved Queens park,” said de Blasio, who as a candidate unveiled his parks agenda in Flushing Meadows in 2013 and endorsed the idea of an alliance.

The alliance will be governed by a board that includes five ex-officio members (first deputy mayor Tony Shorris, parks commissioner Mitchell Silver, acting cultural affairs commissioner Edwin Torres, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz). The other members will include representatives from the USTA and a representative from the National Tennis Center (which is controlled by the USTA); a board member selected by a separate community advisory board; Con Edison’s Queens public affairs director Carol Conslato; 32BJ attorney Raul Garcia; and Make the Road New York co-executive director Javier Valdes, among others.

Janice Melnick, the park’s administrator, will serve as the alliance’s executive director.

Neither de Blasio administration nor Ferreras would comment as to why it took such a long time to form the alliance.

“The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance will provide our park with a community-driven organization to direct strategic planning, effective maintenance and public input,” Ferreras said in a statement.

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