Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tennis Anyone?

Michael Powell is following up on his reporting about the rape of Flushing Meadows Park over at City Room-and he is pointing out that the rag tag army of property owners and CBOs may have a potent new ally:

"The proposed stadium, however, has drawn vigorous opposition from residents in the immigrant-rich neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing and Jackson Heights, who rely on this densely used park for a weekly dose of open green space. But the United States Tennis Association could prove the most intriguing and deep-pocketed opponent of the soccer stadium."

While the locals are also suspicious of the tennis venue Powell suggests that it might not be as unpalatable as the soccer stadium-pointing out that the tennis folks are much better neighbors: "This said, the tennis association often is a reasonable neighbor. When it cut a deal with the Dinkins administration to build a new facility in the early 1990s, it agreed to build dozens of tennis courts and let residents use them most weeks of the year."

Given its location, the soccer stadium would likely slice and dice the park and clutter it with access roads: "Unlike Citi Field and the National Tennis Center, a soccer stadium in the middle of the park would sit a substantial distance from subways and trains. And it most likely would require more roads and parking, crossing close to the tennis center...“It raises a lot of concerns for us,” said Gordon Smith, executive director of the association. “We ought to be considered in a very different light, because we raise almost none of those complications."

Powell also captures the mind over matter attitude of city officials (they don't mind and we don't matter):

"For now, however, local residents offer the loudest opposition. With the help of organizations like Make the Road by Walking, Good Jobs New York andNYC Park Advocates, they have packed usually obscure and sparsely attended “scoping hearings” with hundreds of people to register their disapproval.The atmosphere at one such meeting last week fell well short of welcoming.

While officials from the city’s Economic Development Corporation fiddled with their BlackBerrys and checked the time, the officials running the meeting did not offer simultaneous translation in Spanish, Bengali and Urdu to those who needed it. That omission runs counter to city guidelines.The city official who acted as the moderator of the hearing affected the condescension of an Eton headmaster. “I have been a college professor,” he informed the boisterous audience. “I will wait until you are silent.”

How very good of him."

Whoever that dude was he should be located and quarantined from the public-suffering as he is from a terminal arrogance that has become epidemic in the death throes of the Bloomberg administration. After all, what else can explain the parkicide of Flushing Meadows? Powell goes on to call out his colleagues for being, well, toadies, lackeys and clueless stenographers for the city's grotesque plan:

"To all of this, many of the city’s news media have contributed more than a little confusion of their own. A reporter for Gothamist, a news Web site, consistently frames the battle as one between small-minded NIMBYs and a terrific new stadium.

Other reporters dismiss Industry Pond and the Fountain of Planets as a stagnant and “man-made” body of water that is “fenced off” and sits in a remote corner of the park.These are curious bills of indictment.

Nearly every lake in the city park system is man-made, and more than a few are fenced off. For instance, two of Prospect Park’s ponds are, unfortunately, fenced off, and no one has yet suggested paving those watery expanses. And the notion that the Flushing Meadows pond sits at a far remove from the park center is a fantasy. Visitors might discover this for themselves on any weekend by joining the crowds and food vendors congregating around the pond and soccer fields."

There is a huge fight brewing here and if the resources of the USTA can be added to the grass roots energy and rectitude of the CBOs you will have a potent and explosive mixture that the electeds better heed-because if the Bloomberg arrogance infects these hapless souls they may quickly discover that they have become moribund-a deserving fate for those who sell out the community's interests.