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Ever since March 12, 1733, when Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan became the first official park in New York City, parks have played an important role in a city which has seen its greenspace disappear.
At the time, officials proclaimed space surrounded by a wooden fence was “for the Beauty and Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & Delight of the Inhabitants of this City.”
Last week, in a contentious Community Board 7 meeting, two sides squared off on the future and purpose of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
At issue was the proposed expansion by the United States Tennis Association of its Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The group opposing the expansion was led by Queens activist Benjamin Haber.
“Enough is enough. The time has come to say no,” he said. “Do not be swayed by the city Parks Department. Its treatment of Flushing Meadows Corona Park is a national disgrace.”
Three major unions in the city — the Hotel Trades Council, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and 32BJ SEIU — strongly support the building of a soccer stadium.
Major League Soccer has projected the construction of the stadium would create 2,000 jobs.
Haber recently sent a well-reasoned letter in which he cites preservationist Charles Birnbaum, who wrote in the essay “In Defense of Open Space”:
“When was it decided that strolling in dappled shade under a canopy of trees or roaming a sloping lawn is not a sufficient experience in its own right? When did we stop valuing the sound of running water, the humanizing scale and tactile marvels of nature?”
That hasn’t been the case for Flushing Meadows Corona Park at least since the World’s Fair was first held in 1939 and then in 1964. This is a park where people come to see the Unisphere and its fountains, play soccer, visit the Queens Museum of Art and watch the New York Mets play at Citi Field.
There are other places to enjoy the “tactile marvels of nature.”
Flushing Meadows is a place for families to have fun. As we said last week, the community board should fight to preserve the quality of this park, but not based on some myth about “dappled shade.”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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