The Queens Eagle covered a meeting about The Casino. I will comment as we go along.
Gathered inside a gymnasium in Corona, supporters of the casino plan, dubbed “Metropolitan Park,” stood on one side of the room, while those opposed to it stood on the other. Each side took turns speaking – supporters explained the benefits they want to see and believe they will get out of the $8 billion project, while opponents described an alternative future, one where the 50-acres of parking spaces outside of the stadium are turned into a park, a hospital or housing.
Hey, a hospital. Now that’s something that would improve the community. Surely, Steve and Alex Cohen, the Mets owners who have generously donated to other hospitals couldn’t possible be against that. Well, except the land is parkland.
Standing in the middle was State Senator Jessica Ramos, who holds enormous power over Cohen’s ability to build the casino and entertainment complex in the corner of Northwest Queens.
Though all talk of bringing a casino to Citi Field will be made moot if the state’s Gaming Commission doesn’t grant Cohen one of its three downstate casino licenses, should Cohen get the state’s go-ahead, Ramos will prove to be his next obstacle.
The lot Cohen wants to build the casino on is technically designated as parkland,
Let me jump in. It’s not technically parkland. It is parkland.
….and Ramos would have to introduce a bill in the legislature that specifically allows for the billionaire Mets owner’s plans to move forward on the land, which is owned by the city but is in the first decade of a 99-year lease to the Mets. Though her counterpart in the Assembly, Jeffrion Aubry, introduced such a bill – known as a parkland alienation bill – earlier in the year, Ramos said in May that her’s wouldn’t come until at least next year’s legislative session, if at all.
Unlike the first town hall where around two-thirds of attendees said they didn’t want a casino, around two-thirds of the approximately 200 attendees at Monday’s town hall appeared to be in support of the plan. Those numbers were boosted by members of several labor unions who had come to the event to advocate that the casino and the surrounding entertainment complex be built with union labor, should it move forward.
Some of those who were opposed to the plan, a number of whom were associated with local environmental groups, anti-displacement groups and community groups, said they felt as though they were put at a disadvantage by the entire concept of the town hall.
“It just feels like a very uphill battle, having [Ramos] already framed it as, ‘Hey, all of you on the other side here, what can you do with the billions that we’ll get from this?’ And then looking at us saying, ‘Hey, what can you propose to us as an alternative to this billionaire’s plan?’” said Tenzing Parama, who lives in neighboring Flushing. “It’s a bit disheartening.”
But some on Parama’s side of the room did come with a proposal they say would serve the community better than a casino – a park.
Hey imagine that idea. We could build a park. Surely, Steve and Alex Cohen can’t be against that!
The FED UP Coalition, a group that formed in 2019 in opposition to the plan to rezone Downtown Flushing’s waterfront, presented what they’ve dubbed “Phoenix Meadows,” a proposal to turn the parking lots into parkland.
The group released the plan earlier this month but Ramos said she had yet to see the proposal.
“If it’s a good idea, then hopefully other neighbors may or may not agree – and this is the place for that discussion,” she said.