City Parks denies permits for music festivals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

By Bill Parry

There will be no large-scale music festivals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this summer after the city’s Parks Department Monday rejected all current applications by for-profit companies to hold paid-admission events in the borough’s largest green space.

The city received three applications to use the park for multi-day festivals from concert promoters AEG Live, The Madison Square Garden Company and Founders Entertainment, but Parks determined it would not be appropriate to add these events.

“Parks reviewed all permit applications thoroughly,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said. “While we are heartened by the interest in one of Queens’ most historic parks, our primary concern is ensuring the park is available for the many New Yorkers who call Flushing Meadows Corona Park their backyard.”

Parks intends to explore the possibility of rule-making to create an appropriate framework for approving large-scale multi-day events in FMCP, officials said. Rule-making would include limits on the potential number, scale, and nature of any such events so as not to have an unreasonable impact on the park and its users and would provide clear opportunities for public input.

Even as a host of elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhust), voiced their support for a Coachella-style festival by the industry giant AEG Live, Borough President Melinda Katz and several civic groups from neighborhoods surrounding the park, including Community Boards 4 and 5, drew a line in the sand.

“Events of any scale that enhance our borough are encouraged,” Katz said. “The use of public parks, however, needs to be publicly vetted and coordinated under an official city policy, because the absence of one renders the entire process unfair. The merits—or lack thereof—of any existing or future individual application cannot be fairly considered in the void of policy and public participation, which are paramount.”

AEG Live’s production company, Goldenvoice, had been engaging the community for the last two years, according to Ferreras-Copeland. Just hours after the Parks Department rejected its application, the company announced it would move its Panorama festival to Randall’s Island Park. Three days of music, art, technology and food will take place there July 22-24.

“We look forward to bringing Panorama to New York City and introducing a new festival that showcases today’s top music acts,” Festival Producer Mark Shulman said. “We’re committed to creating an event that will provide significant benefits to New York City with the level of experience and meticulous attention to detail for which Goldenvoice is known.”

Shulman said his company would remain engaged with the elected officials, park institutions and the communities surrounding Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the hopes of bringing a large-scale event to the borough in the future.

“I am disappointed that the event has moved to Randall’s Island because our community has so much potential and so much to offer,” Ferreras-Copeland said. “However, I will continue to work towards bringing world-class events to Queens and improving parks for everyday visitors and district residents.”

Crowley was disappointed but understood Katz and the civic associations’ objections.

“Just as the World’s Fair was a source of pride for the people of Queens for its lasting legacy in commerce and innovation, I believe a world-class music, technology and food festival has the potential to become a driving economic force for the borough as well as an opportunity to showcase Queens,” he said. “I do, however, appreciate the concerns raised by members of the surrounding communities and I thank NYC Parks for thoroughly reviewing the applications submitted. I hope the city can now explore developing a protocol for such events moving forward.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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