QUEENS – Neighbors of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park want concerts, designated picnic spots, food carts, free tennis courts and more play space for children as part of a planning process organized by local community organizations.
The proposals come in response to three separate projects that are being considered for the park – a shopping mall, a 25,000-seat stadium proposed by Major League Soccer and the expansion of the U.S. Tennis Association’s facility.
During a workshop organized earlier this week by the Fairness Coalition of Queens, a collective of community groups, in collaboration with Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning, participants discussed their preferences for the park.
“We are reacting to these proposals,” said Hilary Klein from Make the Road New York, an advocacy group that participated in the workshop, speaking about the proposed developments. “There is a sense that these projects were brought to us not responding specifically to the community needs so we wanted to present our own vision for what we love about the park, how it needs to be changed and what we would like it to look like.”
Leandra Requena, 59, a Jackson Heights resident who participated in the workshop held Monday evening at the Queens Museum of Art, told the organizers that she wanted more events to be held in the park.
“The park is like a backyard of our community, a place where we spend our time,” she said.
She proposed concerts similar to those organized during summers in Central Park and events like Manhattan’s annual Feast of San Gennaro. They would create an opportunity for local businesses and they would bring income to the park, she said.
Klein, one the project’s organizers, said many participants mentioned the need for creating more open space in the park. Some community members, she said, also wanted to see more picnic spots, food carts with various ethnic food, tennis courts that would be free to the public and additional playgrounds for children.
Among things that participants said they wanted to limit was traffic in and around the park.
Klein said that a number of community members liked the idea presented by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, who represents Corona and Jackson Heights.
Ferreras has suggested creating an alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which would be a public-private partnership, ensuring oversight of the park.
The alliance, according to Ferreras, would create a non-profit mechanism to fundraise for the park, it would lead its development and enable improvements.
“Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the heart and lungs of Queens,” Ferreras said in a statement. “I look forward to incorporating the input gained from this workshop as we move forward with our goals for improvement.”
Suggestions from the workshop will be organized by a group of graduate students from Pratt Institute, who led the meeting. The non-binding recommendations will be used during meetings with elected officials and public hearings regarding the park, Klein said.