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Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Alliance Kicks Off Community Outreach

By Katie Honan | December 11, 2015 4:44pm | Updated on December 14, 2015 8:49am
 The community advisory board will help generate ideas and suggestions for the alliance.
The community advisory board will help generate ideas and suggestions for the alliance.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — The long-awaited Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, tasked with disbursing approximately $5 million dollars in funds, held its first advisory board meeting Thursday, setting the stage for its work with the community.

Janice Melnick, the executive director of the Alliance and the park's administrator, led Thursday night's meeting at the Queens Museum, which drew representatives from more than 60 civic groups, organizations and businesses.

It was the first of many upcoming meetings that will help guide the alliance — which was formed last month — in how to spend money given to the community by the United States Tennis Association in exchange for their use of public parkland, officials said.

A vote at the end of the meeting selected two representatives — Jean Silva and Anna Dioguardi — as the interim co-chairs of the Community Advisory Board. 

The board's sole community representative will be selected at a later date.

But some leaders felt there should be more representatives of park advocates on the board. 

"Why is it so heavily City Hall?" Monica Corbett, head of the Pomonok Housing Tenants Association, asked. 

"With all of us that are here, I feel there should be more of us on that board because we have just a little voice, not a big voice."

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who brokered the 2013 deal with the USTA that formed the alliance, said the purpose of the board is to raise funds, and added that the business leaders appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, including representatives from Delta Airlines, HSBC and Con Ed, will hopefully spur that. 

The "mayor's going to appoint business owners, people that can fundraise," she said, "The board's responsibility — and it's a very specific responsibility for this alliance — is to fundraise."

The alliance already has a $5 million investment, which will be spread out over 23 years in various increments, according to the Parks Department.

The community's role will be developed as it goes, Melnick said, but people will be able to suggest improvements and "wish list" items for the park. 

Fundraisers will hopefully raise enough money to check those items off the list, giving the oft-neglected park better signage, facilities, resources and more. 

"It's in the best interest of the park that we have an engine that will raise money," Ferreras-Copeland said. 

The alliance's first board meeting will be held Tuesday, officials said.