Op-ed: The time for climate resilience in Queens is now

waterfontalliance oped
Courtesy of The Waterfront Alliance

Climate change can be described in two ways: More water and more heat. The New York State Climate Impact Assessment confirms it — New York City and Queens’ future will become a new normal of stronger and more destructive coastal storms and hurricanes, a 17% increase in precipitation, and a sharp increase of summer days reaching a heat index above 95°F.

There is no question that Flushing Meadows Corona Park will bear the brunt of more water and more heat. Formerly a low-lying, wetlands-rich area, it is surrounded by asphalt and highways, that faces a future of extreme precipitation and major flooding. Even now the park’s playing fields and recreational facilities are frequently flooded after just minor storms.

It is imperative for us to take action and there is no time to waste. Building climate resilience for all parks, and in particular Flushing Meadows Corona Park, is imperative for the future of New York City, its economy, and the livelihoods of millions of New Yorkers.

The Waterfront Alliance and a team of experts are in the early stages of a project to develop solutions to the most severe climate-related issues plaguing the Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This project will produce climate resilient solutions and help position the park for state and federal funding for infrastructure.

The opportunity of Metropolitan Park at Citi Field amplifies the opportunity for major improvements and a better future for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Support from Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International is a critical component of vital solutions as the climate crisis bears down on Queens.

Metropolitan Park is an $8 billion proposal to reconstruct the current parking lot surrounding Citi Field into 20 acres of new public park space and a year-round sports and entertainment destination. While this parking lot is currently labeled as “park land” by New York State, it is not. Since the World’s Fair in 1937, it has been an asphalt desert – isolated, empty and choked on all sides by highways and traffic. As it stands now, the parking lot divides surrounding communities from each other, significantly reduces the waterfront access in Flushing Bay and places cars above pedestrians.

Just like the rest of the park, this site is naturally a marshland and prone to flooding. When it doesn’t rain, the 50 acres of asphalt traps heat and radiates heat throughout the day and night.

Metropolitan Park is an opportunity to fund critical climate mitigation infrastructure investments, create more than 20 acres of new public park space, and leverage badly needed improvements to the entire set of climate threats faced by Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Queens is the most diverse county in the country – known for everything from authentic global cuisines and the Louis Armstrong House Museum to the iconic US Open. Metropolitan Park is our opportunity to transform 50 acres of asphalt wasteland and give Queens a new distinction: the model of climate resilience.


*Furhana Husani is the Director of Programs and Climate Initiatives at the Waterfront Alliance