January 28, 2016
By Corey Bearak, The Public Ought To Know
Queens, NY – With the Port Authority viewing Willets Point as an alternative long-term parking space during the planned re-development of LaGuardia Airport, and legal rulings creating uncertainty about retail development approved by the City adjacent to Citifield, an opportunity exists to holistically view how best to use and integrate the properties east and west of the home field of the National League champion New York Mets.
The City still plans a mix of commercial development and housing at Willets Points across 126th Street from Citifield.
In commentary here last June, I noted an overlooked amalgam of MTA facilities of substantial size and excellent location across Roosevelt Avenue from Citifield and its parking lot.
South of those facilities lies Flushing Meadows Corona Park including the USTA's National Tennis Center; stroll a bit more and find the Queens Museum of Art, Queens Theatre In The Park and a soon to be restored New York Pavilion. It might not be South Beach but not bad as a “backyard” for hotel and related development.
A cash infusion from developing the MTA's Casey Stengel (NYCT Bus) Depot, and LIRR and subway facilities could be devoted help fund the transit agency's capital plan.
The planned AirTrain from Willets Points LIRR/ 7 Subway Stations to LaGuardia makes such plans all the more practical. It means good-paying trade union jobs for New Yorkers to build facilities that employ union member service workers. Such ambitious planning also demands a look at integrating plans for a full-scale convention center at Willets Point as originally advocated by the Queens Chamber of Commerce; this stands in contrast to the much scaled-back facility envisioned in a latter stage of development at Willets Point.
Perhaps the prospect of economic activity, good jobs, tourism, more revenue for city and state coffers inspires some progress here.