Monday, March 30, 2009

Con Ed finally finds manhole at Willets Point

Con Ed came back to Willets Point last week to look for the manhole they couldn't find back on February 28th because of all the water that had collected in the street. They finally found it and got the job done.

Just look at all the water around it! Who would want to work like that?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Willets Point Cleanup Day videos

Councilman Tony Avella speaks about eminent domain and the lack of paving, sewers and sanitation services at Willets Point. While he is speaking, Department of Sanitation workers are shouting at us in the background.

WP United Spokesman Jake Bono speaks about why the group is cleaning up Willets Point. While he is speaking, Department of Sanitation workers are shouting at us in the background.

Workers begin cleaning up the streets and depositing debris into Crown Container garbage truck.

While WP United workers are breaking their backs, Sanitation is basically wasting time and money doing very little at Willets Point.

A discarded shopping cart came in handy during the cleanup.

The pace is picked up on Willets Point Boulevard.

Willets Point United's Cleanup Day photos

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

City suddenly takes an interest in cleaning up Willets Point

It's interesting that since word got out that we were planning a cleanup this Friday, the Department of Sanitation all of a sudden showed up with their garbage trucks and sweepers and have been in a cleaning frenzy.
It's a shame that the only way to get services is to embarrass the City.
We're still having our cleanup as scheduled on Friday, however, because there's a lot they missed.



(March 25, 2009) Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse is organizing a cleanup of garbage dumped along the streets of Willets Point, Queens, beginning this Friday, March 27th at 12 noon. The trucks will start in front of Crown Container, 126-46 34th Avenue.

“The City of New York has refused to provide us with sanitation services for decades, despite the fact that each business here pays tens of thousands of dollars in taxes annually,” said Jerry Antonacci, President of Willets Point United.

“It’s a shame that we have to take matters into our own hands because of neglect by the City,” said Jake Bono, Spokesperson for Willets Point United. “We have been calling in dumping complaints for years, but the Department of Sanitation refuses to respond and clean up the mess.”

The property owners, business owners and workers of Willets Point will collect and dispose of the garbage.

Besides lack of sanitation, Willets Point does not have adequate sewers and there are hundreds of potholes that the City’s Department of Transportation refuses to repair. These conditions have caused the streets to become an eyesore, have made it difficult for the businesses to operate and have endangered people’s lives and property.

On November 13, 2008, the City Council approved a plan that would remove existing businesses from Willets Point and redevelop the 64-acre industrial site into a convention center, hotels, shops and housing to be built and owned by a private developer. The City has announced that it will use eminent domain to achieve possession, if necessary, and then turn the property over to the developer, who is yet to be chosen. Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse represents more than two dozen property owners who are fighting the City’s plan to acquire their property.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Phases of the Manhole Cover"

Full Moon

Half Moon

Moon on the move

Moon River

It's been decades since the City fixed our streets properly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Noticing New York notices our Article 78 petition

We'd like to thank Michael D.D. White, real estate attorney, urban planner and author of the blog, Noticing New York, for his analysis of our Article 78 petition, filed last week:

The lawsuit challenges the adequacy of the environmental review and the city’s lack of public purpose in taking the property through eminent domain. Michael Gerrard of Arnold and Porter, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, is one of the best lawyers in New York State and probably the number one lawyer in the state when it comes to environmental law. As can then be expected, the papers are extraordinarily strong and well drafted when it comes to stating the suit’s two-pronged attack challenging to the environmental review. Notwithstanding, we find ourselves more immediately fascinated by the public purpose challenge to the use of eminent domain.

The post goes on to compare Willets Point to Atlantic Yards, a similar case where eminent domain is being employed to enrich the developer chosen to build that megaproject - one who happens to be failing at finishing the job.

See: Willets Point Lawsuit Points Out... [Noticing New York]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Missed opportunity

The Department of Sanitation was in Willet's Point today.

We were excited because we thought they might be coming to finally remove the garbage that had been dumped in front of United Steel Products, which we had notified them about via 311.

Unfortunately, instead of doing that, they drove right past the mess, parked in front of Tully Construction and had lunch.

If you're waiting for city services at Willets Point, don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009



Click here to download the Article 78 petition.

(March 11, 2009) Twenty-two members of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse filed an Article 78 petition today with the NY State Supreme Court against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Council, the City Planning Commission and Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber challenging the environmental review that was completed by the City of New York.

The main points of the filing are as follows:

· Petitioners are challenging the Deputy Mayor’s Office appointing itself as the lead agency on the project. Under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) this office does not “have jurisdiction to fund, approve or directly undertake an action,” and therefore cannot be a lead agency.

· The Deputy Mayor’s Office failed to identify and report many of the environmental impacts it was required to under a SEQRA review, including impacts on traffic and highways, emergency response, the city’s water supply and the likelihood of plan approval by federal and state highway authorities.

· The plan takes private property without a public purpose. The current plan is simply a theoretical possibility and the Kelo decision stated that condemners must have a concrete plan in place and a “carefully formulated economic plan” in order to seize property.

Michael Gerrard, attorney for WP United, stated the following in the petition:

“Here, the Deputy Mayor’s Office has only its starry-eyed vision. The Deputy Mayor’s Office sets forth this vision in the first page of the FGEIS [Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement] executive summary: ‘The proposed Plan’s main goal is to transform a largely underutilized site with substandard conditions and substantial environmental degradation into a lively, mixed-use, sustainable community and regional destination.’ This might be a lofty aspiration, but aspirations alone cannot provide grounds for condemning -- and ruining -- the 61 acres of vital businesses in Willets Point.”

WP United President Jerry Antonacci said, “We are confident that the courts will dismiss the findings of the environmental review submitted by the Deputy Mayor’s office and that the City Council’s November 2008 vote authorizing the redevelopment will be rendered null and void.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Civic organization calls attention to our battle

The Juniper Berry has a great article about Bono Sawdust Supply and what the City of New York is doing to Jack Bono and his son, Jake:

Jack Bono spent the prime years of his life serving his country in Vietnam. Now the City of New York plans to seize the factory his family has owned for 76 years and sell it to a foreign developer. This is the story of an abusive un-American land grab taking place right here in the borough Queens.

Pictured is Jack Bono serving in Vietnam.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Defense Committee press conference today

Willets Point Defense Committee will hold a press conference Friday, March 6, 2009. The Committee, that represents the small businesses and workers of Willets Point, rejects La Guardia retraining courses that only give false expectation to the Willets Point workers.

The $2.5 million La Guardia Project to retrain covers the fact that Willets Point is already an industrial city in which small businesses and workers have enjoyed decent wages and have created their own economy, and they have also contributed to the local economy for the last 40 years. This is a community of skilled workers, so there is no need for the city to offer them classes in La Guardia College to learn new skills. Willets Point workers already have a proficiency in auto repair and manufacturing.

The Willets Point Defense Committee considers that the $2.5 million could be used for a new relocation. Because EDC has not given any concrete solution to the businesses and workers who are facing displacement, Willets Point Defense Committee rejects La Guardia courses that are mainly a source of propaganda that don’t address the real problems for business owners and workers.

La Guardia Community College is playing the Bloomberg's game for 2.5 million dollars for the UNREALISTIC training program for Willets Point.

Date: Friday, March 6, 2009

Time: 12:00 PM

Location: LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City 11101

Via 7 Train: Get off at 33rd Street station. Walk two blocks westbound to Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow unplowed at Willets Point

At Willets Point, we have to plow the streets ourselves because the City refuses to send the Department of Sanitation to do it.
The streets are a treacherous mess and our businesses rely on having passable streets.
Is this any way to treat taxpaying businesses?

Independent Sources visits Willets Point

Last month, Abi Ishola from CUNY-TV's Independent Sources visited WP United spokesperson Jake Bono and Stephen Stirling who runs the Iron Triangle Tracker blog. Here is her report.