Council approves USTA’s bid for additional land in Queens’ flagship park. U.S. Open is held in the park every year.
The U.S. Tennis Association bought the support of many outraged park advocates [including Make the Road New York] with a $10 million donation to Queens’ flagship park – enough to grease the wheels for a nearly unanimous approval of its expansion plan by the City Council Wednesday.
The 47-1 vote will allow the USTA to build new tennis stadiums on two-thirds of an acre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The vote came after the USTA made the eight-figure donation to set up a public-private alliance to maintain the overcrowded park.
“The USTA stepped up to the plate,” said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), mixing sports metaphors. “This park deserves more.”
The USTA also agreed to return 1.56 acres of parkland back to Flushing Meadows. But that land, which includes five tennis courts and the open space surrounding it, is already easily accessible to the public.
The association plans to tear down two aging stadiums, built for the 1964 World’s Fair, inside the 46-acre site it leases from the city and replace them with new stadiums.
The USTA will also create expanded walkways between facilities to ease pedestrian congestion and turn a pair of parking lots into two-story and three-story parking garages.
“We are very pleased,” said USTA President Dave Haggerty. “The updates and improvements to the National Tennis Center will enhance the usage of the tennis center for local residents and all tennis players.”
The U.S. Open, the country’s premiere tennis event, is held there each year.
“This will be a win-win partnership,” said park advocate Will Sweeney, who bitterly opposed the expansion until the USTA made the $10 million contribution. “The investment can lead to Flushing Meadows-Corona finally reaching its potential as a world class park.”
But not everyone was a fan of the revised deal.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, who added local elected officials should be the ones to pay for the park maintenance. “They’re taking up more park land.”
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