Dec. 12, 2016 By Domenick Rafter
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz issued a warning Tuesday that she would again oppose any application by a for-profit company to close Flushing Meadows Corona Park for a paid festival or concert this summer.
This month, the New York City Parks Department received applications for large-scale events in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from AEG, Founders, and Madison Square Garden.
Katz, in response, said she would oppose the applications, saying that the current policy toward holding large-scale paid events in city parks is “arbitrary and unfair.”
“Without a fair policy in place, I remain opposed to any applications from for-profit organizations to run paid-admission events in Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” Katz said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
“The absence of a revised policy, including a set selection criteria and process approved by the community, renders the process arbitrary and unfair. Cutting off public access to our treasured parks flies in the face of the very principle behind our parks, which is space designated for public access and equity. I urge the Parks Department to reject any and all such applications until a city policy on whether and how we shut down Flushing Meadows Corona Park for paid-admission events is established.”
Katz also came out against similar applications for large-scale, for-profit events in the park last year, including a multi-day concert on the scale similar to the Coachella Festival in California, that was slated to be held in June.
New York City Parks does play host to a number of for-profit festivals already, including the Governor’s Ball music festival on Randall’s Island and Global Citizens Festival in Central Park. But Katz said the Parks Department lacks a comprehensive citywide policy concerning large-scale events that includes the communities that surround the park in question.
“While public events of any scale that enhance our borough are encouraged, I take issue when it is at the expense of cutting off public access to our treasured parks like Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which is enjoyed by thousands of families and residents every week in the summer months,” the borough president said in November 2015. “It has never been done before in Queens, and without a fair city policy approved by the community to properly shape this significant precedent, we should not start now.”
In a statement, Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor defended the agency’s current policies.
“Following a thorough review, NYC Parks is confident that our existing rules strike the right balance between accommodating exciting special events in our parks and preserving park spaces for all New Yorkers to relax, explore and play,” she said.