Monday, July 26, 2010

Garbage in, garbage out

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

...there has been a great deal of prattling on about how the Willets Point development will somehow become the culmination of Mike Bloomberg's 2030 vision of sustainable development-and much of the prattling is unmoored from any sense of what kind of impact the project-as it is currently envisioned-will have on the immediate surrounding neighborhoods; as well as on Queens County as a whole.

Just a cursory look at what is planned for the site-and a concomitant look at the site itself-should instill a note of caution to anyone with sustainable development dreams (and that includes some misguided-and perhaps deluded with some incentives-environmental groups that rushed to the mayor;'s side to sing praises to the EDC-driven new Willets Point vision).

Now for a reality check. Willets Point, unlike, say, Battery Park City, isn't a nice short walk from not only the city's financial sector, but to as many mass transit options as any Transportation Alternatives aficionado could ever want. Willets Point is relatively isolated, and the major mass transit option-as we have been writing about in respect to the Flushing Commons project-is the already overcrowded 7 Line. The same goes for the myriad bus lines that move in and out of the Flushing transit hub.

Now, according to the Willets Point EIS-which will have to stand in for a definitive document until something a bit more accurate can be commissioned-the development will generate around 80,000 car and truck trips a day onto the already gridlocked intersections that plague the surrounding communities of Corona, East Elmhurst and Flushing. Now keep in mind boys and girls that this 80,000 trip estimate devolves from a methodology that projects almost half of all the Willets Point activity will be somehow effected through the use of the aforementioned over-capacitied train and buses.

The three card monte scammers at AKRF-through the active collusion of its subcontractor Eng Wang Taub-came to this conclusion by the use of a neat methodological sleight of hand: basing the car trip generation on the assertion that only around 70% of Queens residents own cars (and not the over 90% that NYMTC concludes). You get it? Garbage in, garbage out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

CB 7 has done much disservice to the neighborhood of Flushing

Letter to the editor of the Times Ledger:

The editorial page of a newspaper is where its publisher and editors express their opinions on a wide variety of subjects, as is their right. Letters to the editor are where a responsible company, like TimesLedger Newspapers, give readers an opportunity to express their views on articles, including editorials.

A case in point is the Flushing Times editorial “CB 7 Deserves A ‘Well Done’” that appeared in the July 1-7, 2010, edition. CB 7 and Chairman Eugene Kelty, glowingly described, are not the ones I know.

The ones I know thought it was fine to destroy more than 100 trees in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and build a grand prix race track in an urban park — an absurdity that was finally brought down by public outrage and the criminal exposure of a discredited and now-deceased Queens borough president, the prime backer for the track.

The ones I know thought it was fine to double the space in Flushing Meadows for the United States Tennis Association, notwithstanding when they were first given intrusion in our park they promised never to ask for more parkland, but once given more land moved their head offices out of Manhattan to Harrison, N.Y. — a cuckolding of taxpayers if their ever was one.

The ones I know over the years have shown no or little interest in protecting the integrity of the park as an important and non-renewable urban space.

The ones I know think it fine to destroy more than 200 small businesses and the lives of thousands of workers and their families in Willets Point for the benefit of fat cat real estate moguls.

I note in passing there are members of CB 7 who may have disagreed with Kelty, but of course majority rules. While I believe there is more to urban living than fat cat real estate developments, with much evidence in downtown Flushing, others may disagree.

In the end, it will be for the public to decide the merits.

Benjamin M. Haber

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DOT responds to NRDC letter

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

NYSDOT has finally responded to the NRDC request in a letter dated July, 2, 2010-but is claiming that there is no need for an independent review: "The NEPA documents that are being developed are an Environmental Assessment and a revised Access Modification Report....We understand the request for an independent review but believe that working closely with NYCEDC, we can assure that the data will be based on sound data."

This is, without a doubt, a simply breathtaking assertion in the light of the contradictory and fallacious submissions from the very development corp that is now been made a valued collaborator with the state agency empowered to render fair and accurate judgments in these kinds of matters. It is, at the same time, inexplicable in the light of the Ketcham findings that the Van Wyck Expressway cannot accommodate even a tiny fraction of Willets Point traffic. The only way to do so would be to widen the expressway to four lanes in each direction for several miles. NYSDOT simply does not have the money to do this and the cost of widening the elevated structures would total a billion of dollars or more, another subsidy to developers when critical transportation projects all over New York State are being shelved.

All of this implies a gross negligence by NYSDOT of its statutory oversight responsibility-and indicates that the agency, instead of clearing the air-as NRDC suggests-through an independent review, is actively colluding in a bag job; as its resistance to WPU's freedom of information requests dramatizes quite well. The question now is where does the FHWA stand? Will they really rubber stamp this buffoonery or will they step up and kill what has already been demonstrated as an abject failure?