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May 2, 2007

EMINENT DOMAINIA: Willets Point

WilletsPoint-aerial.jpgMayor Bloomberg is casting Willets Point as woefully blighted, though the press has failed to mention that the City has neglected this section of Queens for decades. Like it or not, many businesses have invested in the "Iron Triangle" and now, as part of the Mayor's "environmental initiatives" in the 2030 plan, the city wants them to go.

The NY Sun, Mayor Takes Step To Redevelop Area Adjacent to Shea Stadium

Mr. Bloomberg said the city intends to use eminent domain to acquire property if owners refuse to sell their land, though he pledged to offer relocation assistance and education opportunities for the 250 or so businesses that employ an estimated 1,000 people.

NY Newsday, Whole new ballgame for Willets Point

Currently, though, Willets Point is a neighborhood with no sidewalks or sewers, one resident and a cluster of auto parts and repair shops and junkyards whose employees and owners are fiercely opposed to the city's plan.

"I went down there broke, with no shoes and now they want to take the shoes right off my feet," said Danny Sambucci Sr., 71, who has owned Sambucci Salvage in Willets Point for 58 years. He was among a small knot of Willets Point business owners and employees who attended Tuesday's news conference clad in T-shirts that read "It's Our Land" and the words "Eminent Domain" in a circle with a slash through it.

Later, outside a town hall-style meeting held Tuesday afternoon at the Queens Public Library in Flushing, about 200 people protested, screaming "Hell no, we won't go."

Bloomberg said the city will only use the legal power of eminent domain to seize property as a last resort.

NoLandGrab: "As a last resort," they always say that.

Also, Prof. Tom Angotti, who has been active in Brooklyn, trying to inject some sanity in the public discussion regarding Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards urban planning nightmare, has some observations about Willets Point:

Tom Angotti, a professor of urban studies and planning at Hunter College who has previously criticized the city's plans for the site, said cleaning up the soil won't solve all the pollution problems.

"There are serious questions about whether this site is appropriate for housing," Angotti said.

"It's in the direct flight path of LaGuardia and it's surrounded by highways -- there are potentially major health consequences that go along with that."

The NY Times, From Spare Parts, a Plan to Make Area in Queens a Gem

Cheeky headline, but in reality the plan is to DISPLACE the spare parts under threat of eminent domain. The tone is predictable, though; eminent domain activists do not expect much from the Times.

It's no mistake that NYC is deliberately trying to show the press and public that they might use ("as a last resort") eminent domain, but this isn't a backroom deal, like Atlantic Yards:

The developers, who will not be chosen until the city’s rezoning process is completed next year, will be responsible for paying for most of the remediation, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff said.

Those who have been following the Atlantic Yards controversy will recognize PCCD:

But Mercedes Narciso, a senior planner at the Pratt Center for Community Development in Brooklyn, said the proposed redevelopment “has the potential to generate growth in an equitable manner.” She said the city needed to make sure that at least half of the housing units were for people of moderate and low incomes and that the community benefited from hiring guarantees.

AP, via MetroNY, Mayor: Development plan for 60-acre site near new Mets stadium

The lone legal resident of the 60-acre site, Joseph Ardizzone, has said he does not want to move. Ardizzone did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday. Bloomberg bristled when asked about Ardizzone.

"Did you ever try to think of what's going right in this city?" he said. "And of all the hundreds of thousands of people who will benefit, rather than one person? Look, unfortunately there will always be one person who objects to everything, but I don't think anybody suggests that this society should stay back in the Stone Age and never move ahead."

NoLandGrab: The Mayor's comments on Ardizzone are reminiscient of his rant against "little" property owners in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Posted by lumi at May 2, 2007 8:17 AM