How would you like to see parking lots turn into parking garages in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (GMAP)? Well, that might become a reality if the United States Tennis Association gets their way and succeeds in building two parking garages in place of two existing parking lots (X marks the spots in the above image), in conjunction with their expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 500 additional parking spaces would be added as a result. It’s important to note also that the Tennis Center’s lease with the city allows for access to 800 more parking spaces than are already in place (here’s more about the USTA’s strategic vision project).
For many, parking garages inside a park are an anathema to what a park is (parking garages are too commercial and infringe on the integrity of the park’s greenspace, according to critics) and local community leaders are determined to prevent this development from coming to fruition – this may seem like an odd move, since the car is king in Queens. But it’s understandable that some people want to keep the park a park and not invite in additional cars that parking structures naturally attract (Flushing Meadows Corona Park has no car free hours, unlike the other large parks in the city). And let’s face it – more often than not, parking garages are just plain ugly.
Both Eugene Kelty, chair of Community Board 7 and Marta Lebreton, chair of Community Board 3 are against the parking garages and are confident their boards will not vote in favor of the parking garages. In Lebreton’s words “You don’t need to put a large structure and ruin what the park is. It’s still a park.”
But the pressure to accommodate potential parking structures may get even more intense if the proposed soccer stadium is built in the park, at the current location of the Fountain of Industry. No doubt that in Queens, where soccer is very popular (see: Maspeth’s Metropolitan Oval), this stadium would be a huge draw. And as much as one would like people to take public transportation, the reality is that a lot of people like to drive and find it simply a natural part of modern life, especially those living in Long Island where there is no subway. To be honest, it sometimes is cheaper to pack a bunch of people in a car and drive in than it is to purchase individual LIRR tickets.
Would you like to see parking structures built in Flushing Meadows Corona Park? Would you use the parking garages? Leave a comment with your thoughts.