Community Board 7 met with representatives of the Queens Development Group to discuss the latest news in the Willets Point project last Wednesday — they weren’t pleased.
The QDG, a joint venture between Related Companies and Sterling Equities, is required to meet with the community board quarterly to keep members updated and maintain transparency.
Scott Wilpon of Sterling Equities jumped right in and discussed a Brownfield application the group is submitting for Phase 1 of the project.
“I know there were concerns during the last meeting over the Brownfield,” Wilpon said. “The application is broken up into a couple of sites and we have one or two parcels left to close in on for Phase 1.”
What concerned board members is how the Brownfield application will affect surrounding plots that are not part of the construction plan.
“The area needs cleaning but while you’re doing this, what’s to stop whatever toxic stuff there is from trickling over to other areas?” CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian asked.
Jesse Maizer, an attorney for QDG, said there would be monitors in place that would keep track of any movement of toxic substances.
“Groundwater moves at a glacial pace,” Maizer said.
The response did not satisfy the board members.
But perhaps the most disappointing update was the lack of movement in obtaining the needed properties for the project.
The city has only obtained two out of the 23 acres needed to start cleaning the land.
“Where does that leave everything?” Apelian asked. “It seems to me that this remediation is based on land you don’t have.”
The city owns the land to be developed, but it has yet to have the properties turned back over to the government.
There are a number of businesses still open in Willets Point despite the relocation program having begun in the fall.
“I’ve got to say, I’m a bit disappointed with all of this,” Apelian said. “You only have 10 percent of the land and it seems like this is going to take a lot longer to get cleaned up until you get all of the acres you need.”
The developers estimated that the project would take approximately two years, but Wilpon could not confirm an exact date.
Apelian was also concerned over Sunrise Cooperative, a group of business owners who worked in Willets Point, who filed a lawsuit against the city and developers.
“They found a site that they believe is suitable,” Wilpon said. “Their plans are not complete but we don’t have full knowledge of what stages they’re in.”
According to the developers, the workers of Sunrise Coop are still on site which goes against an announcement made some weeks ago that said the owners had signed a lease.
A representative from the Economic Development Corp. was not present at last week’s meeting. Unlike Sterling and Related, the EDC is not contractually bound to attend but CB 7 highly suggests they make an appearance.
The next meeting is set for September.