So the Wilpons
want out of their New York Mets baseball team ownership.
It’s been reported that potential Mets purchasers include former Yankees player Alex Rodriguez and entertainer Jennifer Lopez, who are also “researching how to develop the ballpark and the area around it,” which includes Willets Point.
Now also getting into the act is Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is contacting potential Mets purchasers to discuss “a new casino [Sands] wants to build near Citi Field,” according to its President and COO, Rob Goldstein.
If the Mayor honestly wanted to jumpstart Willets Point development, he could have cut loose the Wilpons and Related Companies (doing business together as “Queens Development Group”) during the past three years, then solicited competitive, viable proposals from the worldwide development community. By not doing so, the Wilpons now are able to leverage their designation as a Willets Point developer, in negotiations with potential Mets buyers.
Are the Wilpons selling not just the Mets team, but some portion of their share in Queens Development Group? How is it in the City’s interest, to allow the Wilpons and Related Companies to determine whether a Mets buyer can get involved in Willets Point development, instead of that buyer creating its own plan and proposing it directly to the City? Do prospective buyers even understand the development circumstances around Citi Field and Willets Point?
Willets Point redevelopment was initiated in 2007 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg – an elitist land grab of private property, enforced by the threat of eminent domain, to be given to the “one percent” for them to exploit. The redevelopment would also eradicate hundreds of small businesses, many owned and operated by Latinos and other persons of color. Ironically, two Latinos are now apparently eager to propel that project.
We’re well aware of the “star power” of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez. They probably expect nothing less than a very warm welcome in Queens, as new owners of the Mets and co-investors in some glitzy Willets Point development. But their celebrity will not shield them from responsibility for destroying the livelihoods of Latinos and other persons of color who depend on Willets Point for income, if their Willets Point development intrudes on existing businesses and private properties.
In case they haven’t noticed, the world climate has evolved in the 13 years since Bloomberg began the elitist land grab here. Economic genocide by an elite class will no longer be tolerated. Using eminent domain to take people’s private property in order to give it to the elite “one percent” for them to exploit, is quickly recognized as the outrage that it is. The people of Willets Point will continue to defend our businesses as well as our private property, bolstered by the world’s higher awareness and scrutiny of injustice.