From A Walk in the Park:
Bowing to intense public opposition, the Parks Department announced last night that it was canceling a controversial plan to license a much beloved community ballfield to a private tennis concessionaire year-round. The Parks Department became embroiled in the controversy in January when the community was made aware that the city had already awarded a contract extension to Sutton East Tennis - months before the community board had even had a hearing on the issue.
For close to 100 years, The Queensboro Oval Field, located along York Avenue under the 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan, has been a home to baseball, softball, soccer, families, joggers, dog walkers and children learning to ride bikes. It is the only publicly accessible lit, non-asphalt field available for miles. Even though this community has the least amount of park and open space in the entire city, Mayor Bloomberg and Assistant Parks Commissioner for revenue Betsy Smith were attempting to take away the park in order to accommodate a pay-to-play concessionaire who charges the highest rates of any tennis facility on city parkland - up to $ 180 dollars an hour.
The plan would have also allowed the concessionaire to charge $ 795 dollars per child, per week for a planned summer camp which would have displaced children when they have few options. Community members, ballfield users and NYC Park Advocates had argued this proposed use of parkland would not have constituted a public amenity but instead it would have allowed a private business to operate on city parkland. This administration has continually tried to sell our city's public outdoor space by turning them into cash cows.
Last night the City finally backed down:
"I said in the end that we would take very seriously what the community board had to say about it and we did," Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro said late last night at a Community Board 8 meeting. "And I'm happy to say we are not going forward with this proposal to extend the tennis bubble to the remaining months of the year. We are very, very pleased to do that. We do take very seriously what the community boards say."
On March 17, the community board voted nearly unanimously against the City's plan.
So Manhattan has community boards that vote no when they mean no and the City backs down? Maybe the CB dumbasses here in Queens should try this instead of feeling obligated to vote yes all the time so as not to cause problems.