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Archicritic Says Megaprojects Will 'Destroy' Flushing Meadows

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Currently, the city is vetting three major plans that would take away some portion of land in Flushing-Meadows Corona Park: Willets Point, a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall; an expansion of the National Tennis Center; and a 35,000-seat professional soccer stadium. Together, they would occupy more than 40 acres of parkland. All three have major opposition, and now New York Magazine archicritic Justin Davidson has joined the chorus with a scathing review of the Bloomberg administration's goals:

These gifts bedazzle bureaucrats, because they promise to undo decades of selective dereliction. The Bloomberg administration has pumped fortunes into parks all over the city—but not this one. In Manhattan, the private and generously endowed Central Park Conservancy keeps the luminous greenswards buffed and its ball fields camera-ready. The largely immigrant neighborhoods encircling Flushing Meadows Corona Park can't provide so lavishly. Like most of his predecessors, the mayor has other priorities. Even as earthmovers sculpt new hills on Governors Island, tidy up Washington Square Park, and refashion the shore at Hunters Point South, Flushing Meadows is left to fester. Davidson details the state of decay in Flushing Meadows, noting poor drainage, tattered fields, and crisscrossing highways that create runoff pollution. All three megaprojects promise to renovate existing parkland and provide neighborhood benefits, but these things are met with skepticism. Additionally, they are required by law to replace the parkland they take away, but, as Davidson says, "Green space isn't always fungible. A ten-acre chunk in the middle of a park is not the same as a string of tiny parcels on the periphery."

He notes that in 2008, the city actually commissioned a couple architecture firms to study the park in order to figure out how to best bring it back to life. Many ideas were proposed, including removing a stagnant fountain?the same site MLS proposed for their soccer stadium?and replacing it with rolling lawns, much like Central Park's Sheep Meadow. The plan, says Davidson, "started a ripple of delusional optimism, while the city continued acting on a different assumption: that we must destroy the park in order to save it."
· Towers In the Park [NYM]
· Willets Point coverage [Curbed
· MLS Flushing Stadium coverage [Curbed]
· National Tennis Center coverage [Curbed]
Aerial photo of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park via SkyCamUSA