I missed this e-mail yesterday. There was an organized protest by The
Willets Point Industry and Realty Association
today, April 9. Here are the details. it's an interesting story being lost in the Citi Field hoopla:
The Willets Point Industry
and Realty Association (WPIRA), a group of the 10 largest business and land
owners in Willets Point, Queens will hold a press conference and rally on the
steps of New York City Hall on April 9, 2008 at 11 am, demanding that the City
provide the area with basic vital infrastructure including streets, gutters,
storm sewers, fire hydrants, snow removal, trash removal and sanitary sewers.
WPIRA will be joined by members of the New York City Council.
WPIRA says the City of New
York has for many years been waging a campaign of malicious and purposeful
neglect to create and perpetuate an eyesore by depriving Willets Point of the
services that it vitally needs for the eventual justification of the use of Eminent
Domain. A MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT WILL BE MADE BY WPIRA REGARDING THE CITY'S LACK OF
SERVICES AND INTENDED USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN.
WPIRA has been running a
series of ads in the New York Daily News and Queens Chronicle to bring
attention to this issue. An Open Letter to Mayor Bloomberg appeared in the
April 5th edition of the papers and an appeal by the workers of
Willets Point appeared in the Daily News on April 6 and 7. Other ads will
I will provide additional
details below. All 10 business and land owners will be at the press conference
tomorrow and available for interviews.
The City of New York is
proposing to rezone Willets Point, condemn it and evict the existing businesses
through the use of eminent domain and replace them with 1.7 million feet of
retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space, a hotel, 5,500 residential
housing units and a convention center in the neighborhood that is currently
zoned for heavy industry. To make this proposal a reality, the City must first
acquire the 60 acres of privately owned land at Willets Point. WPIRA maintains
that the City of New York has planned to rezone and redevelop for many years
and has been waging a campaign of intentional neglect to create and perpetuate
an eyesore for the eventual justification of the use of Eminent Domain.
The members of WPIRA believe
that the area would be revitalized if the City spent a fraction of the capital
required for redevelopment and invested in infrastructure for the area. The New
York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) conducted a study of the area
in 1991 that suggested exactly that. "If the City provided the infrastructure
and services that we are entitled to and in fact, are paying for, the area
would be revitalized," said Dan Feinstein, President of Feinstein Iron Works,
Inc., a member of WPIRA. The
estimated cost of redeveloping the area is upwards of three billion dollars.
That estimate is expected to skyrocket given the credit crisis and increasing
construction costs. "Our schools and emergency first responders are facing more
budget cuts and the Mayor wants to hand a blank check of New York City's hard
earned taxpayers dollars to a private developer?" said Feinstein. That is
outrageous, unacceptable and we're not going to stand for it."
WPIRA members point out that
the project's price tag is just one of the many obstacles the EDC faces as the
City moves forward to prepare to certify the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review
Procedure) to rezone Willets Point. The City issued an RFP in November 2004 but
has not released results of their environmental impact analysis of the area in
question nor has it presented a detailed plan for the redevelopment of the area
and/or identified a developer.
These usually precede the ULURP process so that the City Council can
maintain control over the final outcome.
WPIRA charges EDC wants a free hand to negotiate with a developer,
unencumbered by the City Council.
Additionally, the Unions
want a hand in the eventual development and a guarantee of Union jobs for all
the temporary and permanent jobs to be created by the project. Housing Advocates want a commitment on
the amount and affordability of housing for the low to middle income families.
"Despite the numerous and
obvious obstacles, it appears that the EDC believes it doesn't have to follow
any rules and it can muscle its way through the City Council and the ULURP; and
the Union and Housing advocates can be appeased by promises that future
administrations will have to fulfill," said Thomas Mina, Vice President of T.
Mina Supply Inc. "We have received feedback from City Council members and seen
the false statements in the news by the EDC that prove our fear that the EDC is
attempting to portray us as uncooperative and "money hungry" so they can
justify the use of eminent domain at the end of the ULURP process," said Mina.
"The EDC is not being
truthful with the City Council, the businesses at Willets Point or the public.
If the City wanted to deal openly and fairly, they would have released the
results of property appraisals that were completed last year by Cushman and
Wakefield," said Anthony Fodera, President of Fodera Foods Inc. Not one of the
10 business and land owners of WPIRA have been provided with viable options for
relocation of their businesses, despite numerous public statements to the
contrary by the EDC and Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall.
The WPIRA points out the
EDC's abysmal track record of completing re-development projects and abusive
threats of Eminent Domain. "The EDC has yet to prove that it can coordinate
between the community and developers to bring a project to successful
completion," said Anthony Fodera. "Just look at Municipal Lot 1 project in
Flushing, Queens. That project has been stalled for years due to the
developer's inability to fulfill the community benefits package it once
promised. Why should we think the EDC can do any better in Willets Point?"
Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA)
Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA) is dedicated to the
development, improvement and growth of the Willets Point area by the businesses
that reside there, and not by development schemes in which eminent domain is
used to forcibly evict and raze those businesses. A. Fodera & Son, Inc.,
Bono Sawdust Supply Co., Inc., Crown Container Co., Inc., Feinstein Iron Works,
Inc., House of Spices (India), Inc., Parts Authority, Inc., QC Iron Works Inc.,
Sambucci Bros. Inc, T. Mina Supply, Inc., Tully Environmental, Inc., Tully
Construction Co., Inc. www.WPIRA.com