Thursday, June 21, 2012

Opposition Increases to Bloomberg's Folly

The Queens Chronicle is reporting on the new Willets Point plan and, lo and behold, others are chiming in with concerns about the proposed development-particularly the proposed use of the CitiField parking lot west of the stadium:

"This is the part of the project that has some in the community scratching their heads. Gene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7, who attended the breakfast, said he isn’t sure of the plan’s legality. Citi Field and its parking lot sit on public parkland, and Kelty doesn’t think putting up a commercial shopping center is the proper usage. Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, who organized the breakfast at the mayor’s urging, thinks such a use of the parking lot could be alienation of parkland."

Wow! Jack Friedman demurs-this really is arguing against interests and hats off to him for his integrity. This is starting off to be a real headache for the city. And what about that supposed 1961 agreement on the parkland? The city thinks it's still valid: "But Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., said following the mayor’s speech that a 1961 agreement with the Mets allows for development."

Kelty disagrees-and adds some other concerns about the favoritism being shown to the Mets: "Nevertheless, Kelty said, the plan “worries me” and he wants to see the 1961 agreement. In addition, he is concerned that the other three developers who sought the Willets Point contract were in a less favorable position with the city than the winner and could not compete with the Mets parking lot scheme. “The others didn’t get something special like the Mets,” Kelty added."

But Kelty isn't done and has his sights set on Related as well: "He also said that The Related Companies, which built the 20th Avenue shopping center in College Point, does not have a good record with the community. “The company does not take care of the local community,” Kelty said, pointing to the 10 years it took for the firm to agree to a cut-through on the property to alleviate traffic, one that it didn’t even have to pay for."

As for WPU we are still not going to lie down and roll over: "Michael Rikon, an attorney representing WPU, said Friday there are a number of problems with the mayor’s proposal, but the bottom line is “it’s not legal. He noted that the city does not have an assembled site, meaning it doesn’t own all the land, and “It won’t pass muster on the environmental review since the added traffic with the shopping center will be explosive. It’s horrendous to put in a mall there.” He called the proposal “a gift of taxpayers’ money” to the Mets, adding that it’s illegal to build on public parkland. Rikon expects WPU to file more lawsuits against the city over the latest proposal."