The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation recently solicited questions from the public via its web site, concerning the LDC's pending Request for Proposals in connection with a state grant which the LDC claims to have received via the Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program. The work to be performed using the grant funds is a step toward "area-wide" and "large scale" development of 60 acres of privately-owned downtown Flushing property which the LDC is anxious to achieve, regardless of its injurious effects on surrounding neighborhoods and roadways.
Given the far-reaching implications of such a project, the LDC's dubious track record (which includes a record financial penalty of $59,090.00 levied by the Office of the City Clerk due to the LDC's unlawful lobbying activities), and the involvement of taxpayers funds, Willets Point United Inc. thought it appropriate to submit 5 questions to the LDC.
The LDC has since posted 8 questions and the LDC's answers, at the LDC's web site (http://www.queensalive.org/csnm/templates/?a=62&z=11). However, the LDC has omitted all of the questions posed by Willets Point United Inc., the answers to which would be of great interest to New York City residents, as well as New York State taxpayers whose funds are reportedly being given away to the LDC as a grant award.
The questions posed by Willets Point United Inc. which are being ignored by the LDC are:
(1.) The property within the proposed BOA area is presently owned by a variety of private owners. However, FWPCLDC's BOA application contemplates "area-wide" and "large scale" development. To accomplish FWPCLDC's long-term objectives for the proposed BOA area, is there any possibility that property within the proposed BOA area may eventually be acquired via eminent domain?
(2.) FWPCLDC's BOA application contains a list of 25 sites located on privately-owned property within the proposed BOA area, which FWPCLDC has already designated brownfield sites. Has any scientific testing been conducted, to determine whether or not each of those 25 sites meets the definition of brownfield?
(3.) Pursuant to General Municipal Law Section 970-r, an application for New York State assistance for brownfield opportunity areas requires that an eligible CBO applicant must have "twenty-five percent or more of its board of directors residing in the community" in which the CBO is located. As FWPCLDC is located in Flushing and pertains to Flushing, Willets Point and Corona, does FWPCLDC have twenty-five percent or more of its board of directors residing in those areas?
(4.) Pursuant to General Municipal Law Section 970-r, an application for New York State assistance for brownfield opportunity areas requires that an eligible CBO applicant must represent "a community with a demonstrated financial need." BOAP application form Part B.7.5 specifies that "a demonstrated financial need" is "indicated by high unemployment, low resident incomes, depressed property values, or high commercial vacancy rates." However, the community in which FWPCLDC operates is not characterized by any indicator of "demonstrated financial need". Moreover, the community which FWPCLDC truly represents – the member firms of FWPCLDC – is composed of prosperous and well-funded businesses, which not only have no "demonstrated financial need," but which are surely themselves jointly capable of funding planned activities of FWPCLDC, without receiving any BOA grant award. How exactly has FWPCLDC demonstrated "financial need," which is a prerequisite to receive a BOA grant award of scarce taxpayer funds?
(5.) We understand that FWPCLDC's lobbying during 2007, 2008 and 2009 in violation of Section 1411 of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law has resulted in legal complaints to the Office of the New York State Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, among many other city, state and federal enforcement agencies. Given that the consequences of FWPCLDC's past lobbying may include the revocation of FWPCLDC's status as a not-for-profit tax exempt corporation, the outright dissolution of FWPCLDC, and other sanctions, what assurance do RFP respondents have that FWPCLDC will be able to carry out the proposed BOA program?
-- Willets Point United Inc.