Jackson Heights scrambles to block developer parkland grab

January 28, 2011 09:26AM

Local officials and residents in Jackson Heights held an emergency community meeting Wednesday in an attempt to prevent a 29,000-square-foot athletic field across from Travers Park from being taken over by a private developer, the Wall Street Journal reported. The field, currently owned by the private, cash-strapped Garden School, has long been eyed by the city, as Jackson Heights is among the districts with the least amount of park space per resident. The Department of Parks & Recreation had already put in a $4.8 million offer for the field, which would allow for the school to use it while class is in session, but school trustees rejected it last week to consider higher bids from developers that would be able to put up the cash more quickly. Arthur Gruen, president of the school’s board of trustees, said one
private developer who wants to build apartments on the property had
already bid $5.4. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the parks department said the process of acquiring the field could take up to two years for the city. “Our first choice has always been a deal with the city with a park, but we don’t want to put the Garden School at risk,” Gruen said. [WSJ]