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Op-Ed | Come together Forest Hills

Apr. 2, 2024 By Joshua Schneps

Queens is the most diverse borough on planet earth. The people and culture of Queens is what makes it distinctive, unique and a fantastic place to live, work and visit.

One of our cultural gems is Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Built in 1923, it was created to host the US Open in the heart of Forest Hills Gardens. In 1961 the stadium began hosting live performances from some of the greatest musicians including Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra.

But in 1978, the US Open outgrew the Gardens leaving the stadium largely unused and it was left to fall into disrepair. Some options proposed for the site by developers was to convert the stadium to housing. The surrounding community did not want additional housing for the site and many called for retaining the historical and cultural history of the site.

Along came a group that committed to bringing the stadium to its former glory as a music venue. They worked tirelessly to gain the support of the tennis club and surrounding community.

Over the past 10 years they have brought world class talent to Queens with live music and performances from Mumford & Sons in their first year to Neil Young performing this season as well as spending millions to upgrade the stadium. Concert nights support local businesses from bars and restaurants to the local organizations that receive thousands in donations.

As the Stadium has grown in popularity so has the number of shows per season and diversity of performances.

But within the last year, two local organizations filed suit against the Stadium- The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation and The Concerned Citizens of Forest Hills which are made up of neighborhood homeowners and residents.

It seems that the noise of the stadium (ending by 10 p.m.) and 30 days out of the year is too much for them. In addition, they are seeking to have input on the performances chosen, objecting to Forest Hills Stadium staff on the streets during performance days to mitigate issues, changing accessibility to the venue and other monetary considerations (The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation is seeking $4,000,000). Most recently The Concerned Citizens of Forest Hills dropped their injunction, which would have stopped all performances from taking place at the stadium.

Whatever concerns the local community has they should stop the use of lawyers, which is a no win situation for either side. Forest Hills Stadium deserves to host shows and if neighbors have concerns they should recognize that the other options were no better and it’s time to sit down side by side to come to an amicable agreement. Lawsuits will only lead to monetary gains for the attorneys instead of the people of Forest Hills.

Both sides need to collaborate and coordinate instead of fighting through third parties. As the Beatles would say, ‘Come Together’.

 

*Joshua Schneps is the CEO and Co-Publisher of Schneps Media.

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