Monday, March 20, 2006

"Queens parks group watches Yankee deal " in TimesLedger 3/16/06

Judging by the flood of emails and newspaper articles, the heat over the illegal seizure of parkland must be turning red hot. Thank you readers for providing leads and encouragement. Keep calling, writing and meeting your local council members about how the City Council must vote NO !!! on the Yankee project which sets a dangerous precedent whereby public parks are stolen and given free to a private company. To add insult to injury, we the taxpayers have to pay for this travesty!

The following recent article is printed from the Times Ledger which is an award-winning group of 16 paid circulation, weekly newspapers that cover Queens community by community. The TimesLedger Newspapers have established a national reputation for editorial and advertising excellence, winning 87 state and national awards in the past year.

The Civic Scene: Queens parks group watches Yankee deal
By Bob Harris on TimesLedger 3/16/06

The Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces is an umbrella group of all kinds of organizations that are concerned about their local parks or parks in general. There is a similar umbrella organization in each borough. The Queens group, headed by Fred Kress (718-341-1395), consists of 416 member groups and is still growing.

While each group protects its local park, the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces lobbies for Queens parks in general, along with the other umbrella groups such as New Yorkers for Parks.

At the February meeting of the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, two speakers told of horror stories in their local parks. John Rozankowski represents a Bronx group called Save Our Parks, which is concerned about the Macombs's Dam Park and the John Mullay Park near Yankee Stadium.

John is livid because the Yankees have convinced various legislators to let the Yankees exchange the Yankee property for these two parks. The Yankees will build a new stadium on these well-developed parks, then tear down the stadium and build a new park there. John is disturbed that on June 20, 2005, the New York City Council voted to suspend home rule over these two parks so they can be given to the Yankee baseball organization.

John is troubled that the old Colonial Public Lock Doctrine is being violated and parks are no longer considered sacred and untouchable. While the Yankee organization says that it is exchanging land for land and that they will leave some old Yankee historic sites in the new park, John says that too much is being lost.

He says that the old stadium is on the edge of the Highbridge community and people will have a harder time getting to the park. He also believes that the new stadium will be in the center of a residential area and will bring cars and traffic. A parking garage will be placed under the new park here too.

Regretfully, all that is left is for the Land Use Committee and the City Council to vote for this project unless Council members decide not to vote for it. While this is going on, New York Hospital Queens, the old Salvation Army Hospital, has made a secret deal with the New York City Parks Department to let them "use" 2.5 acres of the southern part of Kissena Park as a parking lot for a couple of years while they build a new parking garage.

Community Board 7 knew nothing about this arrangement until it was made public recently. The Kissena Park Civic Association knew nothing. Someone said, "Well, this was just an area with weeds!". ..but isn't this what wild, green, park land is supposed to be sometimes?

"They" say they will fix up the "used" land with a playground and other things ....! think they will give it back ...I guess they will. Oh, the hospital will pay a rent of $23,000 a month for use of the park ...but...the money will go to the city treasury, not to the Parks Department, which is the first agency cut when money is short.

Parks are supposed to be sacred green spaces either wild or with amenities, but places where people can freely go to be away from concrete sidewalks, cars, paved driveways, noise and buildings and not used for economic gain by private or public groups.

Kress spent the remainder of the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces meeting providing information about how the various groups could obtain grants to do things for their neighborhood or parks. There are many types of grants. Small $500 grants are relatively easy to obtain for little things.

Their newsletter, The Park Advocate, had some interesting information. Their future meetings will be on March 30, April 25 and May 25 at 7:30 p.m. in The Overlook, which is the Queens Parks Department Headquarters in Forest Park. The March 30 meeting will be a workshop concerning street tree care. Basic tools will be given out.

Arbor Day is Friday, April 28, and a number of small trees are available for planting. "It's My Park Day" is Saturday, May 13.

There are supplies and plants available. Local coordinators will hold events in local parks. Partnerships for Parks will be doing events also. The 4th Annual Parks Advocacy Day will take place on Wednesday, May 10 from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the City Council Offices in 250 Broadway opposite City Hall. The Council members or their representatives will be there to hear your concerns about your parks or playgrounds.

One has to fight to protect parks, or "people" will take them away for economic gain, not necessarily for our free use.


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