Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Opposition Mounts to Overdevelopment in Willets Point/Corona

In this morning's NY Daily News Albor Ruiz weighs in on the outrageous land grab in Willets Point and Corona being orchestrated by the Bloomberg administration-land designated for parks being handed over to rich friends of the mayor:

"Five hundred Queens residents gathered Monday evening at a Catholic church in Corona — and they were not happy. The residents of Corona, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights attended a Town Hall Forum at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, which is next to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Organized by Queens Congregations United for Action (QCUA), and the Fairness Coalition of Queens, they came together with elected officials, clergy, and community leaders to tell Mayor Bloomberg that their park is not for sale to real estate moguls and greedy merchants."

What the folks are realizing that New York has once again become City for Sale-with crony capitalism taking precedence over the needs of the people:

Families in Corona need living wage jobs and affordable housing, not massive stadiums or shopping malls that will create poverty-wage jobs and only serve the interests of wealthy developers,” said Msgr. Thomas Healy, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows which has 10,000 members whose families depend on the park."

The good Father was talking about the slippery Wilpons who utilized an illegal lobbying shell corporation to position themselves to be gifted $200 million worth of extorted property-and the development rights to make billions more in the name of a crackpot version of economic development that steals land from small businesses and hands it over to the rich connected folks. As Ruiz says:

"The new plan will begin undergoing an additional environmental review later this month and calls for developing public parkland for private use. The idea is to build a 1,400,000-square foot mall, two new stadiums and concert venues, several new parking garages and new roads valued at over three billion dollars. Construction of 2,000 units of affordable housing that were part of the original plan would now be delayed until 2025."

Now the city is making a bad situation worse by carving up Flushing Meadows for a soccer venue that will despoil the recreational access of many poor people-something that, as was pointed out at the meeting, would never occur in Central Park:

"Imagine what would happen if they were proposing to build a stadium and a shopping mall in Central Park or in Prospect Park,” said Joseph McKellar, QCUA’s executive director. “The community is really upset, among other things, because the mayor had made a commitment to build affordable housing and now went back on that commitment. They are doing this because they think Latinos, which are the majority in this area, do not have any power.”

As McKellar goes on to say:

"For 72 years, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the biggest green space in Queens, has been a place where thousands of families from across the borough come to “learn, play, and build community,” McKellar said. The neighborhoods surrounding the park depend on it as some of the only open space in Queens. Resident are some of the poorest in the city: 75% are people of color and 40% live in poverty."

So what is growing now is a coalition of local community folks and this incipient outrage will be added to the voices of WPU property owners and the civic groups that have already voiced concerns about the traffic impacts of just the original Willets Point plan-now greatly expanded by the invasion of the park snatchers.

This is a warning sign to local elected officials-and those city wide wannabees who have too often ignored the interests of small business and neighborhoods in their effort to ingratiate themselves to the 1%. Failure to support the people is simply not an option. This entire hot mess needs to be discarded and a new plan for Willets Point must emerge from the wreckage of the misguifded Bloomberg vision.