Madison Square Garden, AEG Live and Founders Entertainment, extremely wealthy entertainment giants, are seeking to use Flushing Meadows Corona Park for paid-for-admission music festivals this summer. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has launched a pre-emptive strike against such use and she is correct.
For too long the NYC Parks Department has been complicit with myopic politicians and wealthy special interests in dumping all sorts of intrusions that do not belong in an urban park like FMCP. It is the most abused park in our municipal park system and that abuse must stop. The Parks Department fails to understand FMCP is important for many Queens residents who do not have summer homes or rear yards in which to relax during summer months. The park is wall-to-wall people during the summer months. Large paid-for-admission events are nothing less than an unwarranted commercialization of public park property which must never be permitted, and particularly as to those with political connections. There are many nonpark facilities in this city that would be available to these entertainment giants.
That Mitchell J. Silver, the NYC Parks commissioner, said he would explore a new rule to approve live large scale multi-day events in the park is unacceptable. It should immediately be rejected with no ifs, ands or buts. Mr. Silver’s attempts to compare this proposal to a charitable AIDS walk in a park or to concerts in other parks that are over in a few hours, free to all persons who which to attend, is political nonsense. There is a difference between such short, free concerts and those events that last for days, that people must pay to attend and given the inadequate parking in the park, will result in mass parking on park grass throughout the park. Public park users will for all practical purposes be denied use of their park so billionaire entertainment owners can make more money and the little people who use and need the park be damned.
Over 100 hears ago Frederick Law Olmstead, the genius who created Central and Prospect parks in this city and important 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.”
If Mr. Silver is not familiar with the above or if he is uncaring about its meaning, it would suggest he has no place as an urban parks commissioner. If Mayor de Blaisio is likewise unfamiliar or uncaring about its meaning and fails to prevent Mr. Silver, his parks commissioner, from further desecration of FMCP, he should be aware it will be an issue he will have to confront should he seek re-election.
Benjamin M. Haber