When the United States Tennis Association opted to move out of Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, an unprecedented usurpation of public parkland, it promised it would never seek more parkland. That promise had as much credibility as a dead tennis ball, and it thereafter demanded and was given space that almost doubled its presence in the park.

It now seeks about one more acre and the right to significantly increase the size of its structures in the park (“USTA stadium plans surprise community,” TimesLedger Newspapers June 21-27). Ignoring for the moment even an inch of parkland is priceless, more cement and steel is a further environmental insult to the integrity of Flushing Meadows.

In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the city did not sell or barter parkland, so the claim the USTA generates revenue for the city is morally and intellectuality bankrupt when it concerns public parkland.

In 1895, Frederick Law Olmstead, the genius who created Central and Prospect parks and other famous 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.”

The huge increase in our urban population and the technological congestion in modern cities makes it clear Olmstead’s admonition more than 100 years ago is more pertinent today, but when it comes to Flushing Meadows it falls on deaf ears. The late Borough President Donald Manes, a discredit to the people of Queens, wanted to turn Flushing Meadows into another Meadow Lands sports complex.

At the hands of too many myopic politicians we are saddled with, Manes’ ill-conceived plan may become a reality and more so if dozens of more acres are turned into a soccer stadium — another prostitution of public parkland.

As to Flushing Meadows, the fault, dear people of Queens, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, in sitting idly by and permitting inept politicians to desecrate a much-needed and -used public park.

People of Queens, wake up and drive these fools out of office, lest our children and grandchildren be deprived of this park.

Benjamin M. Haber


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