Community Rallies in Support of Building Met Park

Community leaders gathered in Diversity Plaza to convince politicians and the community to support building a park on the Citi Field Parking lot

By Jean Brannum

In Diversity Plaza in Flushing, community leaders advocated for the Metropolitan Park to be built on the Citi Field parking lot on May 13. 

Between chants saying “Why not us” and signs with catchphrases like “D13 for Metropolitan Park,” people gathered in support of the parking lot to be turned into a park that will bring jobs, entertainment, and green space to the surrounding neighborhoods. Karl Rickett from the Coalition for Queens Advancement said that the project is estimated to create over 23,000 union jobs.

The proposed Metropolitan Park will include a casino, the most contentious part that has some people against the idea. However, Mets Owner Steve Cohen is moving forward with the project. A survey from State Senator Jessica Ramos showed mixed results of approval and disapproval for a casino in the district. Ramos is undecided about supporting or being against the park, according to Olga Reyes from Voices of D13. 

Reyes, who emceed the rally, wants Ramos and other people to support the project. The casino would bring in the money for the other parts of the parks. She said that she wants more families, including her own, to have more green space. She also wants to have more hotels nearby for visiting family members. 

Attendee Samuel Phuntsog approves of the idea and commented that the casino is only a small part of the park and the project would bring greenery to the “concrete jungle”

“I think even if there’s a casino, at least there’s some better things coming around. That place doesn’t even have trees,” Phuntsog said. 

Jim Burke, a transit advocate from 34th Ave Open Street said that after speaking with officials from the Mets baseball team, he supports the significant infrastructure improvements that would come with the project, including creating safe bike paths around the park, and subway station improvements 

“Going into the Roosevelt station is dark, grimy, and unpleasant. Riding your bicycle on a very narrow bridge and sharing with pedestrians is very unpleasant,” Burke said. “What this is going to finally bring is amazing infrastructure projects.”

Eddie Valentin, owner of the Friend’s Tavern, the oldest active gay bar in Queens, said that he wants the park because it will provide more small business opportunities. As a long-time Queens resident, he was never asked for his opinion on anything until Cohen pulled him into a meeting and asked for his opinion on what he could do for the community. 

“We made suggestions, they were heard, and, what I’m seeing, it looks like they’re being respected. So because of that, I say we do this”

According to the Metropolitan Park website, the company, Queens Metro, has conducted over 500 meetings with community leaders to decide the best uses for the park. 

The casino project is one of eleven potential projects that could receive one of three gaming licenses the state will distribute. 

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