WILLETS POINT, Queens (PIX11) — Plans for a casino to be built at Citi Field have taken a notable step forward, with the introduction of new legislation in Albany. It would allow a gaming facility to be built on part of the ballpark’s parking lot, if Mets owner Steve Cohen is granted one of three downstate New York casino licenses that are set to be granted later this year.

Environmental and parkland advocates are skeptical of the legislation, which was introduced in the statehouse on Wednesday. However, its sponsor says that his proposal adds public space and benefits the community.

At the core of the legislation is the fact that New York state considers the Citi Field parking lot to be parkland. In order for even part of it to be turned into a casino requires what’s called “parkland alienation.” Essentially, it’s the reduction of parks space.

In the specific case of Citi Field’s parking lot, any reduction in its parking lot — which is legally considered parkland — would require other parkland to be established somewhere else, according to the new legislation. It was first reported by The City.

State Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry said that the need for that trade-off is something that Mets owner Steve Cohen and New Green Willets, the company Cohen created to try and win approval for the casino, understand fully.

“I’m really pleased that they listened to a lot of things that the community wants,” Aubry said in an interview.

His bill would require that at least 20 acres of parkland be created elsewhere if part of the Citi Field parking lot was allowed to be a gaming facility.

More specifically, said Aubry, a right of way that would be operated by New York City’s parks department would be created that would connect the World’s Fair Marina, north of the ballpark, with the U.S. Tennis Center, in Flushing Meadows, to the ballpark’s south.

“This application would create that kind of access,” Aubry said, “because I felt it would be an advantage for the people who use both [the marina and tennis center].”

However, a variety of local public space advocates don’t view the new legislation favorably.

Rebecca Pryor is the executive director of the Guardians of Flushing Bay. She was very skeptical.

“The fact that a neighborhood has to swallow a massive casino in order to get some basic park improvements is kind of appalling,” she said in an interview.

Her organization, which is part of a larger coalition called Flushing for Equitable Development & Urban Planning, or FEDUP, wants more of the Citi Field parking lot to actually be a park.

“It would still be New York City parkland space,” Pryor said. “It would actually be used as parkland space. it doesn’t have to have a huge casino.”

As for people who live in nearby Queens neighborhoods, reactions to the proposed casino were mixed.

“Queens is home to a lot of families,” saids Stephanie Perez. “I’m a mom. I have a toddler. There’s a lot Citi Field does for kids. I’m not sure how a casino would intercede with that.”

Shreeman Hariharan was outside the ballpark, admiring it, he said, as a baseball fan.

As for a gambling facility, he said, “If it’s there, I’d check it out, but I feel like I would come out here to go to baseball first, instead of going to the casino first.”

In order for the proposal to go forward, it would require a state Senate bill to be introduced in addition to the Assembly bill that Aubry has brought forward.

The state senator for the area of Queens that includes Citi Field, Jessica Ramos, said in a statement, “The process required to reassign the parkland requires a uniform bill in the Assembly and the Senate, so I was certainly surprised to see a bill introduced. My team and I are still reviewing the legislation, but it is clear that I need to have some more conversations with my colleagues to ensure that binding community input is prioritized in this process.”