Over the past several months, there have been several editorials commenting on the pros and cons of the major re-developments underway in the Journal Square area. Some voices have seemed to suggest that the upwardly mobile middle class people and families should stay where they belong in downtown JC and in NYC and not be encouraged to "invade and take over JSQ". That's ridiculous, more money to be spent within JSQ doesn't automatically degrade the area or displace current residents. The golden era of JSQ depended on more money being spent to support the higher quality of stores and restaurants that once made this area famous.
Others have argued that we need to insist that a certain percentage of the newly built residential units should be set aside for lower income families. Okay. That would help to keep all socio-economic groups together as part of one community family. That's okay. But, so far in this debate, nobody has addressed a critical problem: JSQ has not one major community park for its current population and nobody has planned to create a new major community park or to significantly upgrade nearby community parks to properly accommodate the current and the future JSQ population. Our perpetual lack of balanced planning and vision over the past half century is what degrades our City.
I believe that each major developer should need to pay at least a million dollars into a park fund that would be used for nearby major community parks such as Leonard Gordon Park and Pershing Field. Each of these parks will require at least five million dollars or more for the complete park renovations that they desperately need and that they deserve. It is now three years since the children's playground of LGP was torched by vandals and two years since we had the insurance money to rebuild it; we were promised that playground would be rebuilt by this past November we were then promised by the end of this May we are now promised by this July stay tuned. We were also promised live water into this park by this past November; then by our Spring Planting of this past weekend - no such luck! Even the parks of third world countries often have live water lines in their parks. Now, we are being told that the sixteen thousand dollars it might cost to open up water lines into this park may be more than our City's budget can afford. Similarly, the Pershing Field playground has been dangerously broken down for years with holes in the cushioned surface filled in with asphalt! Promises aside, these two major parks of the Heights community just under a mile north of JSQ can't provide for our children and residents because we have little money in our capital budget and for decades, our City has not known how to pursue many existing grant and fund sources.
If developers want to get richer building skyscrapers in JSQ; okay, but require that they contribute into a park fund that will supply new parks and/or renovate the few nearby existing community parks. I speak only for myself, though I am also.
Dr. Clifford Waldman
FoLGP, Founder & President