Civic leaders oppose Mets owner Steve Cohen’s initiative to develop on parking lot around Citi Field –

Civic leaders from northeast and central Queens have organized to oppose Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plan to construct a on line casino or different business buildings on 50 acres of public parkland surrounding Citi Field that has been used as a parking lot for the reason that 1939 World’s Truthful. Their opposition comes days earlier than Cohen holds a “visioning session,” which is predicted to draw a whole bunch to Citi Field on Jan. 7, simply because the state’s Gaming Amenities Location Board introduced they might start accepting functions for 3 downstate on line casino licenses.

(Courtesy of Queens Future)

The civics have been coalescing in opposition to Cohen’s future plans since he made no point out of a on line casino and as a substitute referred to an “entertainment” venue on “50 acres of vacant asphalt,” in a Dec. 19 press launch saying the visioning session.

“We believe that Steve Cohen is trying to create a perception of public support for a vague concept of an ‘entertainment venue’ — but that he may later misrepresent that as support for a casino to be built on the parkland,” Bayside neighborhood activist Jena Lanzetta stated. “He’s soliciting public opinion, without disclosing that his plans impact public parkland, or that his true ambition is a casino. We will expose such deceptions every step of the way.”

Civic leaders voicing opposition to Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plans have stopped earlier improvement on the previous website of Shea Stadium. (LoScalzo Media Design)

The 50 acres in query – the previous website of Shea Stadium – are usually not solely leased for parking operations at Citi Field but additionally host quite a few occasions, together with carnivals and gala’s, para-athletic sports activities matches and a wide range of different public makes use of.

“The land surrounding Citi Field is public parkland, part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” stated Richard Hellenbrecht, a founder and officer of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy. “Yes, it’s paved over and sometimes used as parking spaces for events at Citi Field. But the fact that it’s paved makes it perfectly suitable for the numerous concerts, circuses, festivals, marathons and other popular public events that are held year-round on that very parkland. For Cohen to imply that ‘vacant asphalt’ is all it is, or that it is unused as parkland, is deceptive and misleading – and plain wrong.”

Cohen workforce officers, who’re separate from the Mets entrance workplace, say the parkland was alienated by the state Legislature in 1961 to be commercially developed for baseball and parking, however improvement on the location was thwarted as soon as earlier than.

Lots of the civic leaders have been plaintiffs within the profitable lawsuit that stopped the Queens Improvement Group from constructing a 1.4-million-square-foot mall in the identical location in 2017. The Courtroom of Appeals upheld a unanimous determination of the Appellate Division that the parkland at concern couldn’t be constructed on for non-park use.

“Our message to state legislators is: Our parkland is irreplaceable. It is not for sale. Contrary to what would-be casino owners may say, public parkland is not ‘developable property,’ and it must never be viewed as such,” Queens Civic Congress President Warren Schreiber stated. “Why is Flushing Meadows Corona Park — which this planned ‘entertainment center’ and casino has been proposed in — over decades consistently targeted by commercial schemes when other parks throughout the city are not? Can you imagine a Manhattan developer holding a ‘visioning session’ to consider repurposing the portion of Central Park between 59th and 61st streets? If it’s outrageous to do that in Manhattan, then it’s just as outrageous to do it in Queens.”

The civics argue that development on parkland just isn’t their sole concern. Any extra year-round attraction would generate much more site visitors – additional congesting roadways such because the Van Wyck Expressway and the Whitestone Expressway, they are saying, including {that a} on line casino on the location would draw a “bad element” to that a part of Queens.

“Touting the economic benefit of a casino is like putting the proverbial ‘lipstick on a pig.’ In fact, casinos extract wealth from communities, and typically weaken nearby businesses,” Juniper Park Civic Affiliation President Tony Nunziato stated. “Casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base and living close to a casino increases the chances of becoming a problem gambler.”

Workforce Cohen maintains that the world has by no means been a park “in the truest sense,” and as a substitute it represents a century of waste, mismanagement and neglect.

“For almost 100 years, the area around Citi Field has been 50 acres of empty asphalt and wasted opportunity that isn’t serving the community to its full potential,” a Cohen spokesperson stated. “Steve Cohen and his team have been listening to the local community who keep telling us there is more they want from the area around the ballpark. We are currently hosting a series of community visioning sessions to hear directly from those who live and work in the community to help us reimagine the space around Citi Field.”

Each visioning classes on Saturday have reached capability.

“Cohen is committed to creating a space that people can come to every day of the year to hang out by the waterfront, enjoy green space, listen to live music, and have plenty of options to eat and drink,” the spokesperson stated.

Two neighborhood members took half in current conferences with workforce officers.

Group Board 7 member John Park, a Flushing resident with a enterprise in Jackson Heights, has attended two current conferences.

“I agree traffic congestion is a concern in the area, but for 37 years I take the 7 train to work and I see all of the unused space in the parking lot and I think what a waste,” Park stated. “I’ve seen their plans and they have green spaces and bike routes, it looks like it would be something cool for the community.”

Former Councilman Costa Constantinides at the moment serves as CEO of the Selection Boys & Ladies Membership in Astoria has taken half in earlier conferences and he’ll “enthusiastically” attend the visioning session.

“I look at the parking lot and I see it’s not meeting its highest and best use, especially when it comes to all that asphalt which leads to runoff and environmental issues,” Constantinides informed QNS. He added that he’s an enormous baseball fanatic who has visited 19 of the ballparks together with his son.

“I look around these ballparks and I see what they’ve constructed like the beautiful park they built in Cincinnati and I say to myself that this is what Queens needs and deserves,” he stated. “I’ve listened to the Cohens and they’re enthusiastic about talking about the future and that’s what I want to be a part of.”

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