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So how is it that in a city like New York, in a borough as ethnically diverse as Queens, the bid for the Olympics has so many people polarized?
That is the question David Oats, the chairman of the Queens Olympic Committee, is trying to answer.
"We are the world here. We are the Olympic dream come true," Oats said. "We will not get the Olympics with their proposal. The international committee made it very clear."
He believes the mayor- and governor-backed proposal for a West Side stadium will thwart the city's efforts to win the 2012 Olympic bid on the grounds that the stadium will be a traffic nightmare.
Oats is heading a committee whose sole intention is to see a stadium built in Queens for the New York Jets as opposed to on the West Side of Manhattan. He said there is a division between the mayor and governor, who are rooting for the West Side proposal, and a group of residents who are pulling for the Queens site. Some activists in Manhattan are opposed to the West Side stadium proposal as well.
Oats also contends the Olympic bid rides on the location of the stadium, meaning the Queens stadium would improve the city's chances for hosting the 2012 Games.
Oats believes the stadium belongs in Willets Point next to Shea Stadium where the New York Jets football team used to play.
To promote the idea of bringing the Olympics to Queens with the football stadium as the new centerpiece of the bid, his organization began a grassroots media blitz last week.
"My preference is to eliminate the Willets Point junkyards across from Shea and have a new stadium built for both Jets and Mets," he said.
With spots on New York 1, WFAN 660 and CNN, the Queens Olympic Committee has spent the last two weeks educating the public about the meaning of having the Olympics in Queens and the need for a football stadium at Shea.
"We want the Olympics," Oats said. "Queens, as the most ethnically diverse place on earth, has proven itself."
He funds his commercials through his personal savings because he is dedicated to seeing the completion of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
"I've been absolutely committed to finishing off that park the way it was intended," he said. "It's kind of in the DNA of that park to hold an international event and hand it back to the community."
Oats spent 20 years working with Robert Moses, the notorious urban planner who was involved with turning the property into a park for the two World's Fairs.
He said he feels as though it is his personal mission to complete Moses' work by rebuilding the park. The property, which spans 1,255 acres in northeast Queens, was once a landfill and was configured into a park under Moses' initiatives for the two World's Fairs.
"We wouldn't have the park if it weren't for the World's Fairs," Oats said. "It was a huge garbage dump (and) that 80-acre junkyard is the last remnant of that dump."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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