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Community groups want input on Flushing Meadows music festival

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Several Queens businesses and local groups have called for a transparent selection process regarding possible hosts for an outdoor music festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 2016 — and have thrown their support behind Madison Square Garden as their preferred choice.

Madison Square Garden (MSG) announced interest in gaining permission to hold an outdoor music festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in June 2016. This event would feature a lineup of music talent and interactive activities, and would also include a day of free Queens community celebration.

AEG Live — an entertainment company behind the annual Coachella music festival in Indio, California — also began discussing the possibility of creating a Queens-based event with city officials in September. Dubbed “The Panorama Music Festival,” it would take place at the end of June 2016.

Queens Chamber of Commerce, Community Board 4 and Long Island City Hotel Wyndham Garden have all written to Mayor Bill de Blasio or Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver to ask for a public input process to be put into place when considering a possible festival host.

Both companies would need to rent space in the public parkland for the paid-admission events, and Borough President Melinda Katz has repeatedly called attention to the fact that this has never been done in Queens.

Although Community Board 4 has already voted against renting park space for private use, it is asking to be provided with information on possible events that may use the space, and for some regulation to be put into place to ease resident concerns.

“[We] are asking that is if becomes necessary to rent the park out for various events that rules and regulations helping to ease the discomfort of the residents of Corona be put in place with input from Community Board 4,” the letter read.

While Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thomas Grech wrote that while the board believes there should be an open selection process for each incoming application, a major music festival could be an opportunity for an economic boost to the borough.

In the letter, Grech said the chamber supported MSG’s proposal because of the company’s New York City roots.

“As one of the major companies that calls New York City home, MSG is well equipped to produce this project and their proposal should be seriously considered,” Grech said.

Wyndham Garden Sales and Marketing Director Jeffrey Reich-Hale said that the community should have a voice in deciding who will produce the festival, when it will take place and what must be given back to the community in return.

Like Grech, he also voiced support for MSG’s proposal, saying that the company has a strong track record of hiring locally.

“MSG has shown a strong desire to create opportunity for local businesses, and is committed to providing space at the festival for local stores and vendors,” Hale said.

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