Sunday, September 16, 2012

Park Alienation

Our friends at the Walk in the Park blog are commenting critically on the idea that taking away parkland makes sense from an economic development standpoint:

"State Senator Jose Peralta is apparently not grasping that the proposed project would be in the center of a 1200 acre heavily used public park. "Major League Soccer is going to make a great economic impact in this area, he told told WABC News,

"And we're talking about over 2,000 construction union jobs. We're talking about 1,100 permanent jobs when it comes down to it. And that's what it's all about. It's about bringing economic development back into Queens."

The "area" he refers to which that he says will create a "great economic impact" is a public park which by law can not be for such purposes. In fact State law - which he has taken an oath to uphold - prohibit such commercial development

Flushing Meadows is a great recreational resort for the communities that Peralta serves-and if he was so concerned about jobs he would be on a huge soapbox screaming about the assault in Willets Point, next door to the park, on 2500-mostly Latino immigrant-jobs and businesses that are slated for condemnation because the mayor wants to transfer the property to his friends.

As the WTP blog goes on to point out there are three projects in total that are going to be built on parkland if the mayor and his cronies get their way: "The 1200 acre Flushing Meadow- Corona Park, and the surrounding community is currently under-siege by two other commercial projects being proposed; a 8,000-seat U.S. Tennis Association stadium, including a large parking garage, and an enormous mall next to Citi Field as part of the EDC's Willets Point Development that the City is not planning seeking parkland alienation approval for."

The huge hint that something non-Kosher in government is taking place can be found when the pols resort to euphemisms to describe their activities-and we can see this clearly with Flushing Meadows:

"Both the State Senator and the Mayor seem to be confused about where exactly these projects are located. A Bloomberg spokesperson said the projects are vital to reviving - (again), "the area."

"In all of our conversations with Queens community groups, we hear the same message consistently: the borough needs more jobs and economic activity. These projects would meet that need in spectacular fashion and provide employment to thousands of Queens residents," said spokeswoman Julie Wood

Of course, a lot more jobs would be available right in Flushing Meadows if the Parks Department budget hadn't been cut so that park maintenance was so poorly looked after-and let's not forget the deal that allowed the Mets to keep parking revenues that went to the city before CitiField was built. As the NY Times reported about the deals struck for both teams (via Wikepedia):

"The plan also said that the teams would be allowed to keep all parking revenues, which state officials had already said they wanted to keep to compensate the state for building new garages for the teams.[13] The teams would keep 96% of ticket revenues and 100% of all other revenues, not pay sales tax or property tax on the stadium, and would get low-cost electricity from New York state.[13] Business officials criticized the plan as giving too much money to successful teams with little reason to move to a different city."

All of this has been a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration-using the mantra of economic development to award lucrative deals to its friends and in the process giving short shrift to the lower orders who fly so far below the mayor's radar-except when he's looking to control their eating behavior.

As the park advocates make clear what is needed is a full environmental review of all three of these projects-and not during the shotgun wedding climate of Ulurp, but before, so that a sober assessment can be made. The advocates get the last word:

"A public scoping meeting for Willets Point Development is being held on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at P.S. 19 Marino Jeantet, 98-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, New York, at 4:30 P.M. Opponents of the plans are calling for a full environmental review of all three projects to access the cumulative impacts before any of the projects begin ULURP.