JHBG Says NO to Giving More Parkland to USTA

Say NO to Giving More Parkland to the National Tennis Center at
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Stop the Creeping Annexation of Our Park

The National Tennis Center is a gated community on 42 acres of prime parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, surrounded by an 8-foot high fence. Since it opened, it has expanded further and further into the park. It now wants to expand once again and take more parkland. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG) strongly opposes handing over more parkland.

We love tennis. In principal, we don’t oppose expansion of the Tennis Center WITHIN the current 42 acres it already has. We may even be prepared to live with the transportation headaches and environmental impact of an extra 100,000 people coming to tennis matches. But we absolutely oppose turning over more public parkland for this purpose.

The Tennis Center has room to expand within its current boundaries. The extra land is not essential to expansion; it is not the only option for the Tennis Center to accommodate more visitors. It is, however, essential to the Queens communities that rely on the park as an oasis of precious green space and a haven of tranquility in a very crowded city.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) says that the Tennis Center is open to the public 11 months a year. But access isn’t cheap. While playing on the outdoor courts costs $22 per hour, access to the indoor courts during the colder months comes at a steep price: $40 to $66 an hour.

You might think that Flushing Meadows-Corona Park benefits from the money the USTA pays to the City to lease the land. But you’d be wrong. The money goes to the City’s general fund. It does not find its way directly back to the park to support general maintenance. (As it is, the USTA only pays less than 2% of its revenue to lease the parkland.)

You might think that the USTA makes substantial charitable donations to help pay for park upkeep and improvements. You’d be wrong again. It gave only $6,000 to organizations in Queens in 2010.

Our TOP PRIORITY, though, is PRESERVING PARKLAND. Please join the JHBG in urging our public officials to say NO to this creeping annexation of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Any expansion of the Tennis Center can and should remain within its current boundaries. Turn over any more parkland now, and it is gone forever. Ask the USTA to propose an alternative plan that preserves our parkland.