We are pleased to see that Community Board 7 has put the brakes on the United States Tennis Association’s proposal to expand its facility in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The board tabled a vote on the expansion last month, asking for more information on how much the association is planning to contribute to the development of greenspace in the park. Vice Chairman Charles Apelian and others on the board want to see how much money the association would be willing to provide for park upkeep in exchange for what they say will be the loss of less than an acre of land.
The USTA is proposing to expand the Billie Jean King Tennis Center to accommodate moving the grandstand stadium to another location. It also wants to renovate the Louis Armstrong Stadium and shift the location of practice courts to allow for greater pedestrian movement.
We recognize that there are benefits for the city in having the USTA in Flushing Meadows. This has never been a traditional park. It was the host of two World’s Fairs and is home to Citi Field.
But we also appreciate the community board getting tough with the USTA.
Apelian and others on the board suggested establishing a capital fund to pay for improvements with money set aside to pay for upkeep. He wants to establish a trust where the USTA can place the maintenance cash for the park, since the money the association currently pays the city goes into the general fund and is not specifically directed at Flushing Meadows.
We know how that works.
Other board members wanted to ensure that more residents from the area get jobs during the US Open, and they want discounts for people living nearby who want to play on the courts.
Not surprisingly, state Sen. Tony Avella is opposed to further development in the park, including a planned 13-acre soccer stadium and a 1.4-million-square-foot mall.
Flushing Meadows is not Yellowstone. But reasonable development, like the USTA expansion, can serve the people of Queens as long as the park maintains greenspace.
We commend the stand taken by Apelian and the community board.