USTA to give back land for National Tennis Center expansion

Flushing Meadows 027
THE COURIER/File photo

It’s a land-for-land deal.

The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has agreed to give up some of its rented land in exchange for the 0.68 acres the organization needs to expand the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Two pieces of land make up the 1.56 acres that USTA will give back to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, according to a news release. The first 0.75 acres is open access area, with the second 0.81 acres is open recreation with five tennis courts.

USTA executives have spent nearly a year lobbying for expansions at the tennis center, which would expand the tennis center’s property to the south. Expansions would also relocate a connector road currently situated on rented land by USTA.

“At the outset of the project, the City suggested that park improvements would result in a more meaningful degree of public benefit than an in-kind replacement for the 0.68 acres that is proposed for alienation,” said Tennis Center COO Danny Zausner. “However, understanding that every inch of parkland is precious and after seeking input and recommendations from the local Queens communities and elected officials, the USTA, in consultation with the Parks Department, decided it was in the best interest of all parties to propose a parkland swap.”

Community boards were split on recommending the project going through, but Borough President Helen Marshall ultimately recommended the expansion carry on.

During her April Borough Board meeting, with USTA executive present, Marshall said parkland had to be replaced, something that was not required of the organization.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and shows just how much we value every acre of parkland here in Queens,” Marshall said upon today’s announcement. “My support for the USTA proposal was conditioned on the need to replace any alienated land in our borough’s flagship park.”