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Where Do We Go Next With The Stadium?

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

We have tentatively scheduled a chat in our online chatroom for this Thursday at 9pm to discuss where we go next with the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, now that it has been saved from the bulldozers. I will let you know as soon as I confirm with our guest speaker, local preservationist and activist Michael Perlman, who had expressed an interest in following up last week’s chat with another live discussion after the stadium vote.

Along those lines, here is a statement from Michael that was issued today:

The ball is in the court of “Forest Hills!” The iconic yet endangered Forest Hills Tennis Stadium earned a reprieve on October 7, 2010. Cord Meyer Development’s proposal to build condos and demolish the majority of the stadium was rejected by West Side Tennis Club members, after not receiving a 2/3 vote (required by bylaws) to approve a sale. The vote was 123-123, proving that only 246 of 291 voting-eligible members voted, and the remainder made a rightful prediction of the outcome.

Rather than Cord Meyer trying to strain the heart of supporters of Queens’ most deserving landmark, Chairman Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council and its members, and citizens alike, can now focus more precisely on exploring creative mixed-use ventures for the Stadium, and continuing our advocacy for city, state, and federal landmark status to preserve a local to international icon, while opening the door to funding (including independent organizational grants) for a much-needed restoration and historically-sensitive upgrades (approximately $12 million).

Perlman explains “Disney-esque condos would have torn the heart out of Forest Hills. Mixed-use creative revitalization would yield a greater economic return in the long-run, and may feature tennis matches, concerts, weddings, exhibits, school trips, charity events, music and art festivals, etc. It would abide with its original and proven mission as “America’s Tennis Stadium” according to a 1922 ad. It has the potential to be a 21st century family destination, bring our communities closer together, boost tourism, convey historic pride, educate our children, and help local businesses through tough economic times, and be an incentive for newer businesses i.e. on the Austin St corridor.” The USTA and International Tennis Hall of Fame have offered their expertise, and the NY Philharmonic is considering use of the stadium as their summer home.

Chairman Michael Perlman launched a grassroots campaign on July 23, 2010, after learning that the historic stadium might be sold & demolished, and submitted a Request For Evaluation form with 50 pages consisting of primary sources to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, recommending the Stadium, Clubhouse, grounds, & interiors for NYC Landmark status. Perlman also reached out and met with local politicians. A landmark letter campaign and petition drive to the LPC and elected officials is ongoing, calling on a public hearing as a first step in the process.

On October 6, 2010, Rego-Forest Preservation Council published an appeal to the West Side Tennis Club, encouraging members to “consider the firsts in tennis, music, and architectural history, and vote to preserve an international icon” at the October 7th club meeting. Designed by award-winning architect Kenneth Murchison and built by The Foundation Co, it was the first concrete tennis stadium countrywide, was home to the US Open, Davis Cup, & Wightman Cup. It hosted players such as Bill Tilden, Helen Jacobs, Roger Federer, and Arthur Ashe & Althea Gibson who broke the racial color barrier. The Stadium also played cinematic roles, as it featured key scenes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train. Annual music festivals and concerts took ground in the late 1950s – late 1990s, featuring The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, The Monkees, The Who, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, Trini Lopez, Peter, Paul, & Mary, and more legendary acts.


Rego-Forest Preservation Council will continue advocating for landmark status, creative reuse, and seeking benefactors, and hopes the West Side Tennis Club will confide in us an ally, and work cooperatively towards a viable future for the historic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which reflects the sentiments and ideals of the greater American public.

Photos

1. Rego-Forest Preservation Council Photoset featuring Stadium, Clubhouse, Memorabilia –
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157607136282297/

2. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium: Gallery 1 featuring Joe Shlabotnik/Peter Dutton’s photos –
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/galleries/72157624960334088

3. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium: Gallery 2 featuring Joe Shlabotnik/Peter Dutton’s photos –
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/galleries/72157624960580042/

 

 

Michael Perlman

 
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair (Rego Park & Forest Hills)

http://regoforestpreservation.blogspot.com/

Four Borough Preservation Alliance Corp, Queens VP

Queens Preservation Council, Bd. of Dir.

Central Queens Historical Association, Bd. of Dir.

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, Chair

Friends of The RKO Keith’s Flushing Theatre, Member

Committee To Save The Forum Diner/Cheyenne Diner/Moondance Diner, Chair

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