Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NYC can't afford to take this risk

From Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

...all that New London has left for all of the heartache it cause Susan Kelo and the 89 other homeowners is a giant vacant sore. As Juan Gonzales points out in this morning's NY Daily News: "Kelo ended up losing her home and moving to nearby Groton, and the entire neighborhood was bulldozed. Four years later, there are only empty lots and weeds where their houses once stood. As for those 3,000 jobs, residents are still waiting for them. "There are some projects in the pipeline, but they've been unable to move forward for lack of financing," John Brooks, executive director of the New London Development Corp., conceded. Finances have gotten so bad, Brooks said, that he will soon be relegated to working part time for the corporation."

So, as we have been saying, here, here and here, NYC needs to see this New London fiasco as a lesson to be learned-and before the city moves to hold any eminent domain hearings on Willets Point (slated for this month or next) it needs to re-evaluate the cost and feasibility of this massive undertaking before it proceeds any further. New Yorkers need to know where the money is coming from; and how the traffic infrastructure will be built that will accommodate a proposed 9,000,000 square feet of development.

Is this the kind of speculative venture that New York needs in this parlous economic time? And will the business owners of Willets Point-along with 2500 workers-lose their life work because of the edifice complex of the richest citizen of the city? In four years, Mike Bloomberg will be (hopefully) gone; but what happens at the Iron Triangle may well define his tenure. As Gonzales reminds us-giving a shout out to Jake Bono of Willets Point as well: "This week, the other shoe dropped. Pfizer announced that it will soon close its New London research center and shift its 1,500 jobs to Groton. The jobs will be gone just around the time the facility's tax abatement ends. Ten years after New London started destroying a neighborhood for a development dream, red-faced town leaders have only a dust bowl on their hands." the case of Willets Point, that vague promise of Valhalla-in the midst of the worst economic recession in 80 years-is simply one expensive road that NYC can ill afford to travel. It doesn't have the money, and it can't afford to lose the jobs and tax paying businesses-not for a promissory note that Mike Bloomberg, long gone when it comes due, will not forced to make good on.