Had a rough week so excuse the lack of updates. A few Iron Triangle updates:
One Wednesday, The Committee to Save Willets Point announced it was splitting from ACORN, a housing advocacy group that had been working with them to fight the city’s plans for Willets Point.
According to the NY Daily News, Arturo Olaya. the committee’s president said he and his members “became furious this month during a meeting with Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber. At that meeting, Olaya said, ACORN threatened to break off negotiations if the city did not promise to make 60% of the project's units affordable.
"They were always trying to put words in our mouths," Olaya said, adding that his members' main concern is to have their businesses relocated.”
Here is a press release I received from the Willets Point Industry & Realty Association that was published earlier this week:
WILLETS POINT INDUSTRY AND REALTY ASSOCIATION GAINS SUPPORT FROM NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND SENDS A MESSAGE TO THE BLOOMBERG ADMINISTRATION: "WE'RE GETTING STRONGER AND NOT BACKING DOWN"
(New York, NY) April 28, 2008 – A letter to Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber from New York City Council Member Hiram Monserrate along with 28 of his City Council colleagues appears full-page in today's New York Daily News. The letter denounces the New York City Economic Development Corporation's certification of the Willets Point redevelopment plan, calling it "deeply flawed" and stating "that without significant modifications we will strongly oppose it, leaving no chance of it moving forward." The architect of the letter was Council Member Monserrate whose district includes Willets Point.
The letter is signed by 29 of the City Council's 51 members and states: "We adamantly oppose moving forward with the current redevelopment plan for Willets Point. The plan is deeply flawed and the opportunity for public consideration has been dangerously absent. We disagree with your decision to pursue ULURP certification for this project. As elected officials, we urge you to reconsider this plan and to engage in a more accessible and transparent process."
In response to the Bloomberg Administration's behind-the-scenes attempt to pressure Council Members to back down from their opposition to the Willets Point plan, Councilman Monserrate wrote to his Council colleagues in a letter dated April 23, 2008: "As the plan currently stands, the concerns raised are too significant to ignore. This Council has rightfully championed the need to protect workers' rights, ensure fair wages, and affordable housing and the appropriate use of eminent domain. Now more than ever, our institution needs to remain strong and resolute to provide a reasonable counterbalance to this flawed proposal."
The Council Members who oppose the Willets Point plan are concerned by the decision to pursue the ULURP certification—the re-zoning and condemnation—for this project without community support or the identification of the developer. "The fact that more than half of the Council Members are on our side should be a clear indication to the administration that their plan to strong-arm their way through the City Council and the ULURP process is not going to work," said Jerry Antonacci, WPIRA Spokesman. Mr. Antonacci noted that the list of opposition is growing.
None of the approximately 260 businesses or 150 land owners in Willets Point have been offered a viable option for relocation and point out the EDC's ongoing attempt to portray them as uncooperative so they can justify the use of eminent domain. Additionally, WPIRA members say that the EDC has been using scare tactics to coerce business owners into selling their properties at substantially lower values than they are worth, implying that the use of eminent domain is inevitable. WPIRA points out that if the City wanted to negotiate in good faith, they would take away the threat of using eminent domain.