Community Board 7 is entitled to whatever information and conditions it deems necessary to aid it in making a decision on the United States Tennis Association’s current application that involves a significant structural expansion of its facilities in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (“CB 7 wants more info on USTA expansion,” TimesLedger Newspapers Feb. 22-28, 2013).

With all due respect to the members of CB 7, their emphasis on how much money the USTA would pump into park improvements is misplaced. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Making approval conditional upon a fund for the park is nothing more than a sale of parkland in sheep’s clothing.

A park is the lifeblood of an urban city and a civilized society does not sell, barter or otherwise alienate parkland, a non-renewable resource. There is a difference between a philanthropic contribution by a civic-minded person who seeks nothing more from the park than name recognition and commercial entities who want parkland just to make money.

Like the vast majority of businesses, the USTA should buy property in the open market and not expect subsides from taxpayers. The USTA left Forest Hills to make more money in Flushing Meadows, and thereafter extorted more parkland to make more money and now seeks a gross expansion to make more money. The application should be rejected as unwarranted, and the USTA can easily make do with what it currently has.

CB 7 need have no fear that if it rejects the application, the USTA will leave. Greedy it is, but it is not stupid. It will not give up the land it got free and the otherwise fantastic deal in which it operates. Last year, the USTA earned $270 million and paid the city a paltry sum of $2.5 million, an amount that qualifies it as a cruel joke upon New York City taxpayers.

The time has come to recognize FMCP is an important and much-needed park and not real estate for sale and to stop the incessant dumping on the park and the public be damned.

Benjamin Haber


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