QUEENS, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following in response to questions about applications filed by for-profit organizations recently with the City to shut down major portions of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the public in order to accommodate paid-admission events next summer:
“Queens is increasingly becoming a premier destination for entertainment, culture and tourism. While public events of any scale that enhance our borough are encouraged, I take issue when it is at the expense of cutting off public access to our treasured parks like Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which is enjoyed by thousands of families and residents every week in the summer months. Doing so without a public review process would fly in the face of the very principle behind our public parks, which is space designated for public access and equity.
“The use of our public parks – especially one as utilized as Flushing Meadows-Corona Park – must be coordinated and planned under an official city policy, because the absence of one renders the entire process arbitrary and unfair. There must also be engagement with the affected community and a real accounting of the adverse and residual impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods. Quite frankly, it’s still unclear how limited resources expended for events of such scale would be returned to Queens and its families.
“These proposals to rent out precious public parkland to for-profit organizations for paid-admission events are therefore not acceptable at this time. It has never been done before in Queens, and without a fair city policy approved by the community to properly shape this significant precedent, we should not start now.”
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park hosts thousands of families every week in the summer months, and residents would otherwise be limited in access to alternative space for countless activities like soccer, softball, baseball, tennis, cricket, bicycling, family picnics, BBQs, birthdays, weddings and other special events.
If the applications submitted this week are granted, it would be the first time ever for Queens to lend its treasured public parkland to for-profit organizations for paid-admission events. The dates requested would displace several standing homegrown events enjoyed by tens of thousands of Queens residents including the annual World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, the Louis Armstrong Festival and, of course, our beloved Mets.