Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Hope you folks like tennis (and have money to burn)
Community leaders say the USTA should have to replace the 0.68-acre strip that will become part of the complex, which hosts the U.S. Open every summer. Instead, the city plans to ask for a still- undetermined financial commitment from the tennis organization to refurbish parkland nearby. Money is one thing the USTA seems to have in abundance: Its CEO received total compensation of $1.4 million in 2010, and 12 employees were paid more than $400,000, according to a Crain's review of its latest available financial filings.
But the Bloomberg administration has decided the USTA will not have to replace the parkland because the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is open to the public 11 months a year and serves the community.
"In the case of USTA, we decided improvements in the park will provide a greater benefit than scrounging for a small parcel someplace else," said Joshua Laird, the Parks Department's assistant commissioner for planning and parklands. "We like the USTA; we like having the tennis center in Queens. The Open itself is important to the city."
With Major League Soccer eyeing the same Queens park for a 25,000-seat stadium, the community is fiercely defending every inch of remaining recreational space.
"The general sentiment of the families we work with that live near the park is that the USTA is not at all accessible," said Joseph McKellar, executive director of the Queens Congregations United for Action. The courts, for which the USTA charges $40 to $66 an hour, are too expensive for many in the neighborhood, he said. "The sentiment is, 'Wow, they already don't do much for folks in the community, and now they want to take even more of the public space.' "
From what I understand, "Parking Lot B" in the upper right hand corner of the above map is where they want to build their new stadium.