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Plan for Queens Park Flushed in Favor of Soccer Stadium

In the waning days of the Bloomberg era, environmental and social responsibility have given way to economic development and developer subsidy. Such is the case, at least, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where a new soccer stadium is planned.
May 8, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Michael Powell looks at the plans for a Major League Soccer stadium being proposed for the middle of Queens's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in place of a five-year-old Strategic Framework Plan that envisioned an ecologically sensitive revamp of the long-neglected, but intensely used, park.

"[The plan] was handiwork of renowned landscape architects. They bow, repeatedly, toward the man for whom they labored: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Their plan, they wrote, could become a 'premiere example' of his effort to 'make the city more sustainable and environmentally responsive,'" says Powell. "Their rhetoric was so 2008.

"Mr. Bloomberg, who has seeded several beautiful parks during his mayoralty, has found a new obsession: He wants to let Major League Soccer place a spaceship of a soccer stadium atop a mound of dirt near the core of Flushing Meadow Park," Powell explains. "In exchange for at least 10 acres of prime parkland, an expansion team’s proposed owner, an Abu Dhabi oil sheik, promises to build a stadium with his own money, which really is grand of him."

"So our curious world: Park advocates are advised to tug at the cuff of wealthy patrons rather than seek financing through the tax rolls. And an oil sheik can, with a straight face, lay claim to public land and get a bargain at that."

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Published on Monday, May 6, 2013 in The New York Times
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