"I am Robert LoScalzo, a resident of Queens. I'm opposed to unnecessarily sacrificing even more parkland to the USTA. I am very concerned that you may not be aware, that USTA is perfectly capable of renovating its facilities while keeping within its present footprint, and NOT expanding onto even more parkland.
USTA's EIS for this project (chapter 17) sets forth two options – the "Alternative Without Additional Park Land" and the "Alternative Without New Park Land Alienation" – either of which would rebuild the USTA stadiums, in place.
So if you're in favor of creating construction and trade jobs, those two reasonable options would absolutely do so, and would also satisfy USTA's desire for new, state-of-the-art facilities – without further encroaching into Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
USTA's self-serving conclusion is that rebuilding within its current footprint is not acceptable to USTA.
USTA wants more parkland, for two main reasons:
To increase the width of a walkway inside the tennis center, to provide a more luxurious experience for tennis people during just two weeks of the U.S. Open. If that walkway really isn't wide enough, U.S. Open fans would have testified at the public hearings in support of widening it. They haven't. Solving a non-existent problem two weeks out of the year does not justify sacrificing sacred parkland
USTA wants to increase attendance at the U.S. Open by 10,000 more people every day. But who says that we want 10,000 more people there, or that it's even reasonable to put them there?
The impacts of those people are very significant.
A very large number of them will travel by car, taxi or limousine. Here are two photographs showing the effects on Roosevelt Avenue during the 2012 U.S. Open. Two entire lanes are coned off – one in each direction – to accommodate drop-off and pick-up of tennis people.
This situation is already very bad – but USTA wants to attract another 10,000 people here per day? By the way, these conditions on Roosevelt are right next to the proposed site of the Mets mall in the Citi Field parking lot – which would be the largest mall in New York City. How can you reconcile commandeering Roosevelt Avenue like this, with the simultaneous traffic to be generated by a huge mall, right here?
The prestige of the U.S. Open is already well established. It does not depend on whether 10,000 more people attend it.
This USTA proposal, like the two others that impinge on our park, areefforts to close deals on parkland while the Bloomberg administration is still around to sign the papers. Please do right by the people of Queens: Tell USTA to renovate within its existing space, and reject its self-serving application to expand its size and its impacts.
Whitestone, New York
(excerpts from the EIS available here.)
On top of all this, the Borough Board, which does not have to weigh in on the USTA expansion under the rules of ULURP, plans to take a vote on the matter and make a recommendation Monday despite not holding a public hearing, which is required.
The information in the USTA's EIS directly contradicts Danny Zausner testimony from February 18 when he stated, “We can't physically replace these two stadium without taking this asphalt strip and turning it into a landscape buffer."