Coming up: a few key dates in the Willets Point development battles. Here is a press release I received from the WPIRA. Loge13 takes no sides: we’re just posting the news:
The battle is heating up between Willets Point business and land owners and New York’s City Hall and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Willets Point Industry and Realty Association is fighting mad and fighting back. The ten business and land owners who make up the WPIRA are planning protests outside of the next two Community Board 7 meetings; the first one will be tomorrow, June 18th. And they are buying full-page ads in three of the Queens weekly newspapers this week. The ads will run in the Thursday editions of the Queens Chronicle, the Queens Ledger and the Queens Courier.
The purpose of the ads is to raise awareness about the additional congestion on the roads and public transportation if Willets Point is redeveloped the way Mayor Bloomberg proposes. As you probably know, New York City’s $3 billion redevelopment plan calls for 1.7 million feet of retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space, a hotel, residential housing units and a convention center. But first, the city must acquire the land. According to WPIRA, The City of New York is proposing to rezone Willets Point, condemn it and evict the existing businesses through the use of Eminent Domain.
If the City is successful in replacing the current businesses in Willets Point, the already crowded streets and highways in Queens will have more traffic and there’ll be more people jammed into the already overcrowded subways and buses. Further, the mayor is talking about an increase in fares. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) points out “The substantial increases on the Van Wyck Expressway in both directions would be due to traffic entering from and exiting to the new access ramps connecting the highway to the Willets Point Development District.” It goes on to say, “The congestion on the Van Wyck Expressway would in turn worsen levels of service on the ramps that provide access to and from the mainline.”
On June 30th, there will be a public hearing and the Community Board is expected to vote on the proposal. WPIRA will be out in force before this meeting as well. The Willets Point business and land owners are seeking support from their neighbors, friends, and business associates to stop this plan, to save their businesses and jobs.