Mayor Bill de Blasio rebuffed attacks from a Queens city councilman that a new nonprofit set up to raise funds for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park “plays politics” by only granting a councilwoman aligned with his liberal agenda an appointee on the conservancy’s board—and leaves Mr. Lancman and his constituents without a voice.
Shortly before Mr. de Blasio joined Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland—a member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus and chairwoman of its powerful Committee on Finance—to announce the creation of the park’s new funder and caretaker, Councilman Rory Lancman, a fellow Democrat, sent out a press release entitled “Mayor de Blasio Plays Politics With ‘Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Alliance’ and Disenfranchises Hundreds of Thousands of Park Users.” Mr. Lancman, whose district covers the southern end of the park, argued only granting Ms. Ferreras-Copeland a representative on the Alliance board was part of a pattern for the mayor—pointing out that both of the mayor’s only town halls while in office have been in the districts of Progressive Caucus members.
“The mayor can’t just have town hall meetings in disticts with council members that are his core allies. He can’t dole out appointments to oversee spending of money in public parks just to his allies,” Mr. Lancman told the Observer in a phone interview, claiming the administration refused to meet with him for months to discuss the Alliance’s creation. “I think there are a lot of communities in this city who look at mayor and ask themselves: Is he really representing us? People here feel he’s not representing them. This decision just reinforces that.”
When asked about the apparent imbalance today, Mr. de Blasio made the disputable assertion that Ms. Ferreras-Copeland’s district “covers the vast majority of this park,” and said that the Alliance board would engage with all stakeholders. He also said that, since he has held just two town halls, it was too early to claim he was only holding them in the districts of political allies.
From Capital New York:
“This is something to invest in!” said de Blasio, speaking to reporters and park advocates at a press conference sandwiched between the Queens Museum and the Unisphere, a steel relic from the 1964-1965 World’s Fair.
Nearly two and a half years after the United States Tennis Association agreed (under duress) to invest a total of $10.05 million into a conservancy to help maintain the park it occupies, de Blasio announced the conservancy’s formal creation.
Parks may be a public and publicly-owned good, but de Blasio, a self-defined progressive, argued, “[T]here are limits to what public funding can achieve."
Today, the city is investing some $20 million into capital projects in the park, he said.
But, he added, "I think it’s wise to get additional funding in for the parks that have the ability to do that."
From the Forum:
“This deal is a sham,” said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. “This entire Alliance initiative and model is based on businesses commercially exploiting Flushing Meadows Corona Park, including taking parkland away from the public. Instead of the city properly investing in the park, as they are legally required to do, the administration is championing this plan in exchange for money. They should be ashamed of themselves. This is certainly not ‘progressive.’