Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's the people's park. Period.

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

When one thinks of Flushing Meadows Corona Park there seem to be different opinions on exactly what the park is. Some see it as multiple soccer fields connected by green space and others see it as a park that has soccer fields in it. These opposing viewpoints are really what is at the heart of the professional soccer stadium argument.

Mr. Abbot, the president of Major League Soccer, in his letter to the editor (“No loss of fields,” Letters, Oct. 18) is fast to assure that his stadium will not result in a loss of soccer fields. He then spends seven additional paragraphs speaking of the role of soccer in the community.

I contend, like many other local people, that the park is just that — a park ("Parks for the people," Letters, Oct. 25). I contend that recreation is not just playing soccer. If anyone were to visit the park during the warm months they would see thousands of Queens residents at the park. They come with family and friends. They come as large groups, couples and singles. Yes, some are playing or watching soccer games, but many others are picnicking, barbecuing, sunbathing, playing volleyball, bike riding, tricycle riding and doing a myriad of other activities.

These are the people who will be displaced when the park becomes the home of a professional soccer stadium, parking lots and “new and improved” soccer fields. These are the people who will lose their green space. Replacement green space is not available in Queens, so that is a straw man argument.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park doesn’t have $100 million donors to ensure it remains a people’s green park (try putting the stadium in Central Park!). It is the park of the working and middle classes. Unfortunately, many of our politicians seem to have abandoned us.
We need to all speak out to ensure that our park remains just a park that has soccer fields in it.

Ellen Minaker

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

The issue is not whether the proposed soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park will not result in the loss of fields as claimed by Mark Abbot, the president of Major League Soccer (“No loss of fields,” Letters, Oct. 18). The issue is not, as claimed by Mr. Abbot, that the MLS will maintain current soccer fields in the park.

The issue is not Mr. Abbot’s purported philanthropy. The issue is yet another prostitution of FMCP by giving — not to a nonprofit organization or one engaged in charitable public works but to a private, for-profit business — up to 13 acres of urban parkland. Professional soccer, like all other professional sports clubs, is owned by immensely wealthy people, and, like all private for-profit businesses, exists solely to make money, as much money as possible. I find no fault with making money, but I do object to making money by a parkland grab and adding to the ongoing dismantling of FMCP. I do object to the claim it will create jobs (minimal part-time when all is said and done) and I do object to the claim it contributes to the city’s economy, pennies in the context of our gross annual economy. I do object to the claim the stadium will be in an unused part of the park. If it is unused, grass it over and place benches and picnic tables in the area.
Urban parkland should not be kept in an unused condition so as to then be argued by myopic politicians to not even sell it, but give it away.
In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s this city did not sell or barter public parkland. Fields 2, 3 and 5 in FMCP are currently slated for reconstruction and this will occur without the MLS. Just like Central, Prospect, Bronx and Clove Lakes parks, FMCP should be maintained by tax dollars. Suffice it to say in the case of FMCP, the second most used park in the city — mostly by the underprivileged — the fault lies with far too many city officials, particularly those in Queens who should know better, who consider their constituents to be real estate and private interest groups. They have intentionally shortchanged and ignored FMCP, and the little people be damned.

Not only does MLS wish to construct a 25,000-seat stadium but to have the right without having to seek permission, at anytime in the future, to increase its size to 35,000. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has said this a godsend that will raise a sense of pride in the community and benefit Queens. Hogwash. It will benefit the rich owner of a private for-profit business. Mr. Garber’s further claim that a soccer stadium will make FMCP better is Madison Avenue nonsense and absurd on its face. The only thing that will make FMCP better is to prevent politicians and private special interest groups from having any say in its management.

The lack of a hue and cry in opposition by elected officials is testament to their intellectual bankruptcy and low caliber.

Benjamin M. Haber


Anonymous said...

In a society such as ours, so called progress, (development and advances in mega structures) can only move forward at the cost of people "lower" on the social scale. There is no such thing as regression in situations like this and there is no such thing as conservatism in this instance.

You put votes into these two faces politicians from, lets say.... Virgina hands which in turn allows them to control a great portion of things regarding your life.

Anonymous said...

Leave it alone!

Jerry Rotondi said...

However you choose to define it, FMCP is the PEOPLE'S LAND, and it IS NOT there to be carved away and stolen by schemers.