McLaughlin Wants Olympics Venues In Flushing
If New York City becomes the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the first section of the city the world will behold during the inaugural ceremonies will be the planned Olympic Village in the Queens West development of the Hunters Point section in Long Island City.
According to the executive summary prepared by NYC 2012, a fleet of ferries will begin a procession from the Olympic Village to the proposed Olympic Stadium carrying 16,000 athletes, coaches and officials.
Fireboats shooting cascades of water will escort the ferries from the Olympic village down the East River, around the tip of Lower Manhattan and up the Hudson River to the planned stadium
The ferries and their escorting craft will make the trip only if the stadium, which is strongly opposed to by residents living near the proposed site, ever gets built. It was one of the former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s fondest dreams to have a domed stadium built on the West Side rail yards, but he couldn’t get past an army of vociferous opponents.
Another impediment to the NYC 2012 stadium proposal is that it needs a companies $1.5 billion transit project, and that is no sure bet either since the city will be mired in debt for the next several years.
Advocates of the stadium–transit plan want to extend the Number 7 subway line from Times Square to the West Side, and also build connections for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro North, all at a $1.5 billion cost.
However, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D), whose district covers part of Flushing and is also on the NYC 2012 committee, feels Flushing is ready to provide a site for the stadiums if the plan for the stadium on the West Side of Manhattan doesn’t get approved.
As the executive summary of the NYC 2012 plan was released and discussions of parts of the plan began to be discussed again, McLaughlin stated:
"With cost being the prohibitive factor, then I would agree Flushing would be the ideal alternative. We have the subway, we have the railroad and we have 110 acres of developable land."
McLaughlin referred to the existing stadiums and other open spaces in Flushing—Shea, the U.S. Tennis Center, and Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. The transit facilities are the same Number 7 subway line and the LIRR, both of which have stations near Shea. There are also three major highways not far from Shea, with off-highway connections already in place.
The developable land is the 110 acres extending from Willets Point, just across the road from Shea, to downtown FLushing. McLaughlin would like to see the huge tract developed with malls, restaurants and housing. The city has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from developers who could tackle the massive and inherently lucrative development plan.
McLaughlin, who wears another hat as president of the 1.1 million-member New York City Central Labor council also sees lots of jobs, upwards of 40,000, being created if a development plan goes through.
But there’s opposition within NYC 2012 to making Flushing a major site for the games. Jay Kriegel, director of that organization, says Flushing was given a look as a possible stadium venue, but was passed over because Manhattan is considered a superior site.
Kriegel said last week, "We have put together the absolute strongest plan to bring the Olympics to New York. We have chose n the most compelling venue. The West Side is the superior place."
The summary plan released by NYC 2012 last week was prepared for the U.S. Olympic Committee which must choose either New York City or San Francisco to be this country’s host city contestant among a score of major cities around the world. The U.S. nominee will be announced on November 2. The final choice of a city by the International Olympic Committee will be made in 2005.
A fleet of ferries sailing from Long Island City to begin the grand opening procession for the games and a fireworks display of the grandest proportions will end them.