Five years ago, the League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund came out swinging on behalf of the city’s mega-plan to transform Willets Point into the New York’s “first green neighborhood.” In fact, Andrew Darrell, VP, Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund and Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director, New York League of Conservation Voters both signed on to a letter of support for the Willets Point project that was circulated by "non-lobbyist" Claire Shulman and her bogus grass roots LDC. In part, the letter claimed, "This project offers perhaps the greatest return: the rehabilitation of a 60-acre brownfield which has been abused for decades into a sustainable 21st century LEED community."
As far as the NYLCV is concerned it is, as the Marxists say, no accident. In May 2010, the mayor was the League's keynote speaker-a reward for the group's supine response to the assault of the Bloomberg economic development team on the city's air quality-and we could find no public comment from League director Marcia Bystryn about the alarming DOH air quality study from the previous year.
But the League has been played by Bloomberg for awhile, and it would be interesting for the press to track the money trail from the mayor's sources. This is still a, "not for nothing," city-and there are enough things that the Bloombergistas have done for an independent environmental group to criticize.
As for EDF, who was more outspoken than this group about the mayor’s congestion pricing tax? All of a sudden the group had a $500,000 budget to lobby and do ads for the plan. If anyone else but the mayor had done this, a criminal investigation would have been launched. Instead, the DAs and the US Attorneys cringe with fright when it comes to tackling the really rich and powerful.
So, no one should be surprised that two of our city’s leading environmental groups-organizations who were duped into supporting the original Willets Point plan, have nothing to say about the new iteration-a mall built on parkland! Hard to believe this kind of dollars induced lockjaw.
In response, we have Henry Euler’s testimony at last week’s city council hearing-where the august body spent roughly three minutes on the parks issue. Euler is vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, a Queens civic with over 600 families. As Euler told the council:
“Today you are considering the proposal dealing with the 1.4 million square foot mall to be constructed on the parking lot to the west of Citi Field. This land is parkland and should be off limits to any private development. Parkland is sacrosanct. It belongs to the people, not private developers. With the rate of intense development in Queens, we need all of the green space we can spare.
The asphalt on the unused part of the parking lot to the west of Citi Field should be removed and trees and other vegetation should be planted on the site in order to make it look more like a park once again. There is no shortage of people living in close proximity to the park, or even further away, who could use that refurbished parkland.
Have you seen how many people use Flushing Meadows Corona Park? It is staggering. How could anyone think of usurping land for private gain when people living in overcrowded neighborhoods look to the park as their backyard and a source of relaxation, exercise and tranquility? This park should be a New York City landmark, just as Central Park is in Manhattan and Prospect Park is in Brooklyn. Queens is tired of being ignored!”
This should inspire public outrage and the leading mayoral candidates should be on this like the proverbial white on rice. Instead we get silence - aided and abetted by the kept menagerie of subsidized environmental groups - and we can add the Sierra Club that received a huge influx of funds from the mayor for its anti-coal campaign.
We’ll give Euler the last word-although we believe that the real last words will be heard in court:
“There are so many questions to consider in this case, and so many concerns. We stand with the coalition known as Save Flushing Meadows Corona Park and our neighbors in western Flushing and Corona. No mall in this location! Just preserve the parkland and find additional funds to sustain and maintain our precious park. Thank you!”