Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Development costs hidden from public

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

The question of whether or not the Willets Point development will ever get off the ground is much more an imponderable today than it was-pre recession-two years ago. In the first place, with the city out of funds, services being cut, and lay-offs looming, the cost of the development would appear to be prohibitive, and in any case hard to justify. The fact that the city's lap dog EDC has yet to lay out these costs honestly, indicates that it fears sticker shock in the citizenry.

In addition, the issue of traffic-one that wasn’t really raised with any precision during the ULURP process-has become crucial. In the first place, the development, according to the city’s own court papers, cannot be built without the approvals for ramps off of the Van Wyck Expressway. That approval process, conducted by both NYSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, has revealed that there are serious problems with the data submitted by traffic consultants hired by EDC. The process is so tainted that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has written to the regulatory authorities calling for an independent traffic study under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act.

What is totally, clear, however, is that-now that Willets Point United has become engaged-is that the process will be drawn out and thorough, with an independent review of the traffic a very real possibility. This call for transparency and independence is being seconded by a variety of local civic groups, organizations concerned with the cumulative impact of, not only the Willets Point traffic, by all of the traffic generated by scores of projects in the vicinity of the Iron Triangle.

The more that the folks become aware of the true costs of developing Willets Point-and this includes the massive traffic that it, and other local projects, will generate, the less likelihood that the project will ever get off the ground. But given all of the serious questions raised above, it should be incumbent on all elected officials to endorse a moratorium on Willets Point development-particularly the use of eminent domain-and a call for a comprehensive and independent traffic study that will underscore the real impacts that all of the communities of Queens will be facing in the future.