Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Today's pols are reincarnations of Manes
From a letter to the editor of the Queens Tribune:
In 1895, Frederick Law Olmstead - the genius who created Central and Prospect Parks in this city and other famous parks elsewhere - said: “The survival of our park system requires the exclusion from management of real estate dealers and politicians and that the first duty of our park trustees is to hand down from one generation to the next the treasure of scenery which the city placed in their care.” The huge increase in our urban population and the technological congestion in modern cities makes it clear Mr. Olmstead’s admonition over 100 years ago is even more pertinent today. But when it comes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, it not only falls on deaf ears, but upon a large group of donkeys who masquerade as public officials, oblivious to the fact that even during the great depression of the 1930s, public parkland was considered sacred and inviolate, not for sale or barter.
Since the administration of the late former Queens Boro President Donald Manes through and up to our current Bloomberg administration, FMCP has been up for grabs by all sorts of fat cat real estate and special interests aided and complicit with so called politicians who have not the vaguest understanding of what urban parks are all about and that once parkland a non renewable resource is given away, it is lost forever.
Residents of Queens and indeed of this city have every right to be concerned and to protest the malfeasance being inflicted on FMCP.(Residents Protest Park Plans- Queens Tribune-Sept. 20-26). It will be recalled Manes, who disgraced the office of Boro President facing criminal charges, wanted to cut down over one hundred trees and build a Grand Prix race track around Meadow Lake, endorsed at the time by our current Queens Boro President Helen Marshall, then a public official, as well as others and wanted to turn the park into a Meadowlands sportsplex to be named after himself. Since then the USTA was given a significant piece of the park upon its promise not to seek more parkland. That promise was as worthless as a dead tennis ball; it sought and was given more land and currently seeks more as well as the right to increase the size of its stadiums, an environmental blight. Bloomberg’s ill-advised Willets Point plan will take some parkland and cause an egregious impact on the park. On the horizon is the prospect of a private for profit soccer stadium without hearing any expressions of opposition from any public official. It should also be noted the Mets stadium when initially constructed, was on parkland. The billboards on its current stadium for which it derives substantial income, is an environmental horror.
Donald Manes’ dream of a sportsplex in lieu of a park may well come to pass, in which case it should be named after him since the demise of the park would be criminal and compliment his abysmal term in office. While the die has been cast, but since not yet solidified, can anything be done to prevent this from happening? The answer is “Yes.” The people of this city and in particular of Queens, must take Frederick Law Olmstead’s admonition seriously. Flushing Meadows Corona Park must be removed from the city’s jurisdiction and turned over to a professionally trained park administrator supported with tax dollars and with the specific obligation to exclude all politicians, real estate and special interests from any say in management of the park.
Residents of Queens wake up if you want to save Flushing Meadows Corona Park for yourself and generations to come, and insist any person seeking public office must support the above or not receive your vote.
Benjamin M. Haber,