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Lancman celebrates settlement of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance lawsuit

Lancman celebrates settlement of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance lawsuit
The de Blasio administration and City Councilman Rory Lancman settle a lawsuit over the structure of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance.
Photo by Mike Shain

The de Blasio administration and City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) settled a lawsuit last week challenging the structure and funding of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, an independent nonprofit organization that will decide how to spend more than $10 million that will be contributed by the United States Tennis Association.

The suit, filed in 2016, had primarily alleged that the alliance violated city law by denying Lancman, who represents the southern portion of the fourth largest park in the city, a seat on the board of directors. At issue was Lancman’s contention that locking him out of the board breached the City Charter and the Administrative Code.

Originally, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), who brokered the 2013 deal with the USTA over its park expansion, was the only Council member who could choose a representative to the Alliance. Lancman alleged the arrangement was political favoritism towardman ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, but City Hall argued the arrangement was made because the majority of the park was in Fererras-Copeland’s district.

The mayor attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed earlier this year, but the State Supreme Court denied de Blasio’s motion.

The resolution grants representation on the board to all Council members who represent neighborhoods surrounding the park, including Lancman, Ferreras-Copeland, City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayide).

“I’m very pleased that the resolution of this lawsuit will mean fair representation for myself and all the Council members whose districts overlap and abut Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” Lancman said. “Our constituents all use and care deeply about the park, and I look forward to working together to bring resources to Flushing Meadows to make it the truly great park it was meant to be. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland for their sincere efforts to bring about this resolution.”

Representatives of the board of directors will propose changes to the bylaws at the Oct. 13 meeting to add appointees of each new council district and the mayor will appoint an additional two more board members, increasing the total from 15 to 21 people, officials said.

“The city is pleased with the resolution of this matter,” City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said. “We expanded the FMCPA board to allow for broader community representation.”

Ferreras-Copeland, who is not seeking re-election to a third term this fall in order to spend more time with her family, is supportive of the settlement.

“I welcome the resolution of this matter and the addition of new members to the board who can represent our community,” Ferreras-Copeland said. “We will now count with more people that love and care for this park, helping us further enforce the main mission of this group: preserving and improving this beautiful public space for all the members of the surrounding areas and visitors in general. It is time to turn the page and move together towards the betterment of our park. I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for supporting the alliance, the board of directors for all their hard work, and Council Member Rory Lancman for his commitment to our beloved park.”

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

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