Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Mayoral Candidates Support MLS Stadium In FMC Park - But None Are Against It

The 2013 Mayoral Forum On Sustainability sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters was held last night  at Cooper Union's Great Hall in Manhattan.   (Photo: Courtesy: The League Of Conservation Voters)


By Geoffrey Croft

Attendees at last night's Mayoral Forum on Sustainability sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters could be excused for being a bit confused after hearing the candidates responses involving the building of a 35,000 seat soccer and concert stadium being planned for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. 

All nine candidates were asked by moderator Brian Lehrer, on Earth Day, about the  proposal for the park. 

Not a single candidate spoke up in favor of protecting the parkland.

They were asked for a show of hands of who supported the development of the stadium in the park.

"Is anyone solidly for the stadium,"  Mr. Leher asked.  The  audience clapped when none of them raised their hands. 

Mr. Lehrer then asked  a follow-up. 

"Is anyone solidly against  the stadium," he asked.   

The audience laughed and groaned when none of the mayoral candidates raised their hands.  

Brian Leher asked John Liu to speak about his ambivalence, a question that was met with laughter. 

Mr. Liu  spoke of broken promises made by the current administration in other replacement park deals in other stadium projects.

"There is a credibility factor here," he said.
"In the case of Major League Soccer stadium that's being proposed -  and I do believe the administration is pushing it behind the scenes -  I do believe overall it's not a good idea because they haven't  shown us exactly where they are going to restore the parkland. "

He went on to say that the city has to correct of the "huge difference" in parklands throughout the city in terms of maintenance inequities. 

Phil Konigsberg, said he was disappointed at the responses.

"I would have been good if all the candidates commented on that issue but they were tight-lipped," said Mr. Konigsberg, a member of Save Flushing Corona Park, who attended the forum.  "They all had an opportunity to come out and take the right position.  Liu was singled out (by Lehrer) but they all should have spoken out," he said. 

"I expected at least someone to get up and speak out against taking the park but none of them said anything. I was shocked. This was a sustainable forum after all. "

"Replacing the park is not an issue for the people fighting to stop these private corporations from taking the land," said Konigsberg. "The park should't be taken in the first place. That's the position the elected officials should be taking and protect it." 

(Photo: Courtesy: The League Of Conservation Voters)

The USTA does not care whether or not they write a check to buy a replacement parcel or put money into a fund.  The parks department owns the land and they are the ones controlling that issue.  

According to Danny Zausner,  USTA's Chief Operating Officer, the parks department has told the USTA they would rather have money.  

According to critics the replacement park issue is being used as cover for elected officials to vote yes on the project. 

The USTA expansion issue goes before City Planning tomorrow where it is expect to be rubber stamped by the Mayoral controlled committee. 

Although the USTA refuses to make the expansion proposal publicly available online despite repeated requests it is available for the first time here.

The Mayoral candidate forum on sustainability was held last night  at Cooper Union's Great Hall in Manhattan. 

Amoung the topics the candidates were questioned about their positions on were parks, waterfront development, traffic congestion, post-Sandy rebuilding.

The evening began with the candidates being asked whether or not they believed as a general principle that man made global warming is real and the city has a responsibly to consider carbon emissions in city policies.

Eight of the nine candidates raised their hands in agreement. One,  John Catsimatidis, president, chairman, and CEO of the Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods had a different opinion.  

"I think the earth has exited for billions of years,"  Mr. Catsimatidis surmised.  "I'm concerned about global warming but we have to really , really have to study  it to see if it is the result of what we are doing." which was met with audience groans. 

On Sunday State Senator Tony Avella was joined by representatives from a number of civic organizations and park groups including,  Queens Civic Congress, Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Juniper Park Civic Association, West Cunningham Park Civic Association,  Hillcrest Estates Civic Association, Bay Terrace Community Alliance,  Auburndale Improvement Association NYC Park Advocates, and individual members from the surrounding communities who care about our parkland. The press conference was held to protest the proposed further expansion of the USTA Tennis Center into Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The New York City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing for this project, tomorrow, Wednesday,  April 24th at 10:00 am at 22 Reade Street in lower Manhatan.

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