Theodore Roosevelt Park Billie Jean King

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Tennis Legend Billie Jean King Leads Fight To Save NYC Park

February 02, 2019 - 2:51 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Tennis star Billie Jean King is among the residents rallying to stop the Museum of Natural History from building on part of an Upper West Side park.

The museum's plan to create a new science center by 2020 would take up a quarter-acre of the 17.5-acre Theodore Roosevelt Park.

King says she has lived on the Upper West Side and frequented the park for more than 30 years. She led a rally with the group Community United, which is suing to try and block the project.

Related: Community Saves Manhattan Garden Beloved By Bowie

Protesters gathered on the steps of the Museum of Natural History on Saturday, chanting, “Save our park!”

“We do not want this to happen, because if the building goes up that means they can build in every inch of the park,” Billie Jean King said. “That means we would have no Roosevelt Park. I don’t want that to happen.”

Community United sued to in an attempt to block the project but was denied. The group appealed, and they say no work can be done until their appeal is reviewed and there is a ruling.

Michael Hiller, an attorney with Community United, says the city and the museum are circumventing the law in implementing the project.

Museum spokesperson Anne Canty says the plan has all the necessary approvals from the city -- and the right intentions.

 “We love the park,” Canty said. “Nothing is built here that is not built in the service of education, science education for the families and students of New York.”