Thursday, July 11, 2013

City Planning hearing Covered by Newsday

The City Planning Commission hearing received good coverage from Newsday today:

“A $1 billion retail-and-entertainment mall planned for the site of what is currently a parking lot of the New York Mets' stadium would spearhead a major transformation of a blighted neighborhood, developers testified Wednesday.

But opponents argued that the 1.4 million-square-foot mall and other plans for their Queens neighborhood would simply benefit developers while pushing out local businesses.”

Once again, Irene Presti got the focal point as she rebutted the self serving statements of the developer:

“Richard Browne of Sterling Equities, which is developing the mall complex along with Related Cos., said it will serve the local community because "Queens doesn't have enough retail." At the same time, he said, development promises to bring in more affordable housing.

Not so, said Irene Prestigiacomo, who owns property used by an auto repair business.

"It's all smoke and mirrors," she told commissioners. "They want to take my property and give it to developers. It's a land grab."

The community also came out and noted the impossible infrastructure challenges with the proposed development:

“Other residents who testified said the mall would rise on city-owned land while developers receive tens of millions of dollars in subsidies.

Ed Westley, a member of Community Board 3, noted that traffic to the area will increase and the subway will be so overcrowded "that the No. 7 train will need to be a double-decker."
Unmentioned in all of this is the planned destruction of Flushing Meadows Park-as the city looks to expand the USTA facility and looks to build a soccer stadium: “Other separate proposals for the area include expanding the National Tennis Center and building a 35,000-seat professional soccer stadium.”

There is no possibility that the city would even think of doing such a thing in Central Park or Prospect Park-apparently the immigrant communities adjacent to FMP are not very important to the elitists who make up the current administration.

Lost in the hoo ha, however, is the fact that this entire proposal is based on a foundation of lies. As Irene Presti told the Commission, the unethical bait and switch is alive and well:

“This was a deal, however, that generated a great deal of controversy down at the city council-the legislative body that needed to approve the project. Most of the times the use of condemnation is seen as a drastic act and is used sparingly, and only for a tangible public use. Not seeing any great public use in the city’s proposal, the city council balked-sending EDC scrambling.

Here’s where the deal making began and various interests came into the negotiations and thousands of units of public housing-along with an agreement to provide a so-called living wage to retail workers-was added to give this land grab a public flavor. My mother always told me that if you’re going to bake a lie, you need to frost it with the truth. And so it went. With the land grab being frosted with the adding on of these perceived public benefits.

Fast forward to today. Gone is the housing-pushed way back into the distant future with no guarantee that it will ever get built. Gone also is the pledge to provide the workers with a living wage. The only thing that is left is something that was never there in the first place-a massive, traffic generating nightmare of a retail mall that was never part of the original deal; and would never have passed the smell test with council members concerned with the use of eminent domain to take away property from small owners like myself.”