Columnist wrong on World’s Fair

The May 2-8 Political Action column “A third World’s Fair in the city would spur economy” transcends foolishness for a myriad of reasons.

There is chaos in much of Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, so the event could not possibly encompass a “World’s” Fair. Courtesy of the United States Tennis Association, an interloper in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, but nevertheless a permanent fixture, it holds a worldwide yearly tournament. We do not need a fair to introduce the park to the world.

The 1939 fair was a financial disaster, its bond holders receiving back 40 cents on the dollar. The 1964 fair was even worse, its bond holders receiving back 19.2 cents on the dollar. With due respect, William Lewis does not understand parks are the lifeblood of an urban society, which is often plagued by congestion and a lack of open space.

A fair in FMCP would result in a shutdown for about five years, depriving the people of Queens the use of a much-needed park. FMCP is used mostly by the less privileged who do not have summer homes in the Hamptons and most likely not even a backyard.

More than 100 years ago, Frederick Law Olmstead, who created Central and Prospect parks, said, “If scenic parks are to be well-placed, well-bounded, well-arranged and, above all, well-preserved, dealers must necessarily be excluded from management. Politicians also, if the work is to run smoothly.”

He also said it was the first duty of park managers to “hand down unharmed from one generation to the next the treasure of scenery which the city placed in their care.”

Olmstead’s admonition is more pointed now than it was when he said it, given the enormous increase in urban congestion we now experience. Any elected official who buys into the nonsense of depriving the people of the use of a municipal park for years is unfit to hold public office.

I doubt anyone would support a World’s Fair in Central, Bronx or Prospect parks. FMCP, the little people’s park, should not be treated differently.

Benjamin Haber


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