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Aqueduct convention center not good for Queens

TimesLedger Newspapers

It would create a good feeling if once in a while taxpayer dollars produce a legislator who takes the time to seriously look at an important issue that will affect the residents of this city.

A case in point in which in-depth analysis is lacking and with meaningless generalities is state Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Little Neck) Jan. 26-Feb. 1 letter to the editor “Convention center in Queens will create needed jobs.”

Weprin fails to discuss the Brookings Institution report that there exists a glut in convention space in this country. University of Texas at San Antonio economics professor Haywood Sanders pointed out that overall national convention center attendance has dropped since the early 1990s. Weprin fails to deal with the existence of the Javits Center in Manhattan and the proposed convention center in Willets Point. A mega-convention center at Aqueduct Race Track falls into the realm of absurdity.

Weprin’s reference to the 1939-40 and 1963-64 World’s Fairs demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the facts that do not support his claim that a super convention center in Queens is a guaranteed success. In the 1939-40 World’s Fair, investors lost 62 cents on every dollar invested. The 1963-64 World’s Fair had 25 percent fewer visitors than projected and had a multimillion-dollar deficit.

Perhaps a deficit in both fairs that far exceeded dollars was the fact they were premised on an understanding that upon completion the residents of this city would be given a first rate municipal park. Not only did Flushing Meadows Corona Park not materialize as “first rate,” but it became, at the hands of numerous myopic politicians, the dumping ground for all sorts of non-municipal park activities.

Weprin should devote his energy to turning Flushing Meadows into what the public was promised but never received: a first-rate park.

Benjamin M. Haber


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