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CB6 Votes For USTA Expansion While Seeking Cash for Park Improvement

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | March 14, 2013 10:13am

QUEENS — Community Board 6 voted in favor of the proposed United States Tennis Association expansion in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Wednesday night, but it also wants the organization to donate money for the maintenance, security and upkeep of the popular park.

The board is the latest of those surrounding the park to weigh in on the proposal, which has garnered a mixed reception in Queens.

The board voted by a 21-6 margin to approve the USTA’s plan, which calls for replacing the aging Louis Armstrong Stadium, building a new Grandstand Stadium and two parking garages.

A new walkway would also be built and seven courts would be replaced. And a .68-acre strip of the park would be permanently turned over of to the USTA, adding to its 42-acre complex.

CB6 chair Joseph Hennessy said the hope is that the USTA would invest in the park. “If we want to be honest, it’s like a dust bowl,” he said about the park. “It needs improvement. Where the improvement is going to come from? The city is not too concerned.”

The USTA pays the city $2.5 million a year for use of its land. The money goes into the general city fund and the city decides how to use it, the USTA said.

The resolution passed by CB6 asks the USTA to donate additional money to the annual maintenance, security and upkeep of the park. It also requests that the tennis association be responsible for replacing the trees that will be damaged or removed and that all workers hired during the construction period are unionized trade employees.

When asked about the non-binding resolution, Andrea Hirsch, USTA’s Chief Administrative Officer, said “we are open to helping the community and the park as we go forward with this process.”

“We haven’t affirmatively said ‘yes’ to anything in particular because we want all the community boards to have a chance to give us the input,” she said. 

CB6, which represents Forest Hills and Rego Park, is one of six Queens community boards reviewing the USTA proposal.

Other community boards have voted on the issue this week.

Two other community boards voted ‘yes’ — CB 8, which covers Fresh Meadows and Kew Gardens Hills, and CB 7, which includes Flushing and College Point.

CB 9, which covers Kew Gardens and Woodhaven, and CB 4, which includes Corona and Elmhurst, voted ‘no’ with CB 4 setting a list of stipulations that includes a request for $15 million in a trust fund used exclusively for Flushing Meadow-Corona Park.

CB 3, which includes Jackson Heights and North Corona, is scheduled to vote on Thursday night.