Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Willets Point on Ice

What we really enjoy is finding out how fluid the conceptual development of Willets Point is in the minds of so many people. Someone proposes a high tech concept and the political birds chirp-and the heck with the original zoning plan that passed the city council three years ago. Now the ghost of the NY Islanders have returned once again, and our old buddy Jack Friedman-head of the Queens Chamber of Commerce who never supported the local businesses at Willets Point because they are, well, local Queens businesses-wants them on our grave site.

The NY Daily News reports the story: "Queens leaders are renewing a push to score the New York Islanders after Nassau County voters downed a $400 million bond referendum on Monday for a new hockey arena and minor league ballpark. A day after the measure for a new Nassau Coliseum failed by a 57% to 43% vote, efforts to lure the Islanders to Willets Point - creating a sports complex with the Mets and U.S. Open - gained momentum."

What gets us is that there are so many people who feel that all of these various concepts are fungible-which tells you that there really is no solid plan for the Iron Triangle, just a whole bunch of thought experiments. And no one gets that a dramatic shift in the plans would entail a supplemental EIS and perhaps an entirely new ULURP process-as if the current scheme with its fraudulent traffic data hasn't run into enough trouble.

And in the midst of the country's dire economic problems-and the fact that NYC and State are draining people trying to escape the high tax and cost of doing business here-we have the indomitable Friedman looking to fund an arena. He even would build it next to Aqueduct-good luck with that: "Friedman suggested the Islanders arena could also be built next to the planned Aqueduct racino in southeast Queens."

Message to Friedman: The current multi-billion dollar speculative venture at Willets Point is one boondoggle that the city just can't afford. Bringing the Islanders into the mix is making thin ice even more dangerous.