Metropolitan Park: An Eight Billion Dollar Opportunity for Northwest Queens

A Tale of Neglect in Northwest Queens

For many years, communities in Northwest Queens like Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights have experienced neglect. City officials failed to invest in these communities, leaving predominantly immigrant families with limited opportunities. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these regions recorded higher levels of unemployment and poverty than other parts in Queens.

The pandemic only worsened the situation, hitting these neighborhoods the worst. With COVID-19 eroding livelihoods, residents had to find alternative ways to survive. Today, the effects are still evident – survival jobs like sex work are prevalent along Roosevelt Ave, including among newly arriving asylum seekers.

Progress and Challenges

Some strides have been taken. My office has instituted a program at Corona Plaza with the aim of keeping local vendors in business. It’s a solvable issue, though. Applying temporary fixes to societal wounds won’t bring about necessary change. Our community needs a permanent solution that revitalizes our local economy.

Citi Field’s Unused Lot: An Untapped Resource

A potential lifeline exists though in the form of the Metropolitan Park proposal. This $8 billion project plans to transform the Citi Field parking lot, which is unused for over 200 days every year. Proposed by New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, this project could breathe new life into the economy of Northwest Queens.

If realized, Metropolitan Park would create around 23,000 union jobs, significantly improving the financial status of many families. This isn’t a groundless promise though. Case in point: Resorts World, where all employees are part of a union, earning a living wage with benefits.

In addition to this, Cohen has committed to establishing a $163 million community investment fund. This will provide essential financial support to local community-based organizations in a range of sectors, including legal aid, healthcare, and youth programming.

A Taste of Queens at Metropolitan Park

The proposed park also includes a food hall featuring local vendors from Northwest Queens. A significant aspect of the proposal is a gaming section, aimed at the large fanbase of New York Mets, U.S. Open tennis, and New York City Football Club, which will relocate to its new stadium at Willets Point in 2027.

As New York City’s tourism levels are bouncing back to pre-pandemic figures, Metropolitan Park has the potential to become a major attraction. Many believe this can create jobs and wealth for local families who have been denied such opportunities in the past.

This view is shared by dozens of community-based organizations, community leaders, elected officials, and residents who support the project. We are aware our borough is growing and should not overlook important economic development opportunities for communities that have been historically sidelined.

The Role of Community Advisory Committees

That’s why it’s critical to allow Community Advisory Committees to oversee projects like this. These committees, established by the state Legislature, ensure any community concerns are heeded and acted on.

Such projects should not be in the hands of a single person. Instead, there should be collaboration and transparency for everyone involved so that the best possible deal can be made for the community.

Moreover, vacant land like the unused Citi Field lot should not be a barrier to families’ financial improvement. A choice stands before us: continue with an underused parking lot or convert it into a hub of tourism and revenue for our borough. I fully stand behind the latter, for it holds the promise of jobs and the upliftment of countless working-class families.

It’s time we turn the motto of “Queens get the money” into reality. We have a chance to transform this borough into a live, work, and play hub for the city. Let’s seize this opportunity and shape a brighter future for Northwest Queens.

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