Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scope of Work!

The Times Ledger weighs in on last week's scoping session for the Mets mall and gets right to the heart of the issue: traffic will be an immitigable disaster. The paper cites the comments of the inimitable Ben Haber:

"An initial study was completed in 2008, but after significant changes, including the announcement this spring that the acreage for the development would nearly double, the partners and the city Economic Development Corp., which is facilitating the project, had to add a supplement to that study and took input on what should be looked at.
“This review must, and I repeat must, come to grips with the vehicular monstrosity the proposed development will surely create,” said Ben Haber, a longtime Queens activist opposed to the project who spoke at the hearing, at 98-02 Roosevelt Ave.
Haber and others had been predicting that the original development would create a catastrophe on already traffic-clogged Van Wyck Expressway, but said the problem would only worsen with the addition of 1.4 million square feet of retail space the partners want to build on a Citi Field parking lot, increasing the total area of the development from about 60 acres to slightly more than 100."
Not only that but, as WPU"s crack environmental lawyer Mike Gerrard pointed out to the session, the approval of the ramps must now be reconsidered because this is a new project-and just as the city must conduct a new EIS so must the FHWA. This time, however, it can't assume that the project will be built and it must use a no-build scenario as a baseline. Then there is the issue of parkland and that pesky 1961 agreement that the city argues obviates the need for an alienation bill in Albany:

"A 1961 law states anything built on that land must directly benefit the Mets and Citi Field. The partners and the city Law Department contend the law allows the mall because the development will make money for Sterling Equities, and thus indirectly benefit the Mets."
There it is in a nutshell. The only rationale for this disaster is that it will, "Make money for Sterling Equities," the very company that engaged in the illegal lobbying scheme to garner the original approval. What a corrupt bargain.
WPU friend Christine Wilkinson lays out the parkland theft issue: "
"But Christina Wilkinson, a Queens activist speaking on behalf of the civic group Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, said any use of parkland for commercial purposes would need to be cleared by the state Parks Department.
"One last point. There is a growing community awareness that it is no  longer acceptable to examine this project as if in a vacuum-especially when there are too other equally noxious developments planned within a mile radius of each other: "A woman speaking from the Pratt Center for Community Development contended the study should take into account the other developments within the borough’s largest park, including the proposed construction of a Major League Soccer stadium nearby."
The city apparently thinks that these three developments are a boon for Corona and beyond-and sees no downside from advancing them-but not studying them-together. This calls to mind what a famous philosopher once said about a rival: "He seeks synthesis but all he achieves is composite error.