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Queens Chronicle

Letters To The Editor

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:00 am

Housing In Willets

Dear Editor:

The issue in the Willets Point proposal is not simply a small amount of affordable housing. However laudable such an objective, the issue is the price to be paid (“Cheaper Willets Pt Housing Urged,” the Queens Chronicle June 19). Apart from hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit real estate developers, the price is the destruction of more than 225 viable businesses; the dislocation of more than 1,300 employees and thousands of their dependents. And for what? A useless convention center when one exists in Manhattan and slated to be enlarged at taxpayer cost of about $1.4 billion and at a time when there is a glut of convention space in this country; a 700 room hotel in an area besotted with hotels; a public school that would be surrounded by a major league baseball stadium, a large hotel, a convention center, directly under the flight path of LaGuardia Airport aircraft traffic, much congestion, hardly suitable for a place of learning. There will be some affordable housing, not a good enough reason to sacrifice hundreds of businesses and thousands of people. There will be repairs to infrastructure at taxpayer cost, something the city should have done a long time ago, but it can do that at this time and the current businesses could remain. When will the myopic politicians who run this city wake up to the realization that it must stop sacrificing small businesses and the little people at the alter of fat cat real estate developers?

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate should make up his mind as to who his constituents are. In limiting his criticism to housing, he is abandoning the small businesses that will be destroyed by this proposal and suggests he is more interested in the real estate developers than the little people that earn their livelihood in Willets Point. And please, spare the public of the absurd notion these people will all find employment elsewhere. If as the councilman claims, he supports the plight of the less privileged, he should make it clear without any ambiguity, he opposes the proposal.

Benjamin Haber,

Flushing

Willets Point ULURP

Dear Editor:

On Monday, June 30, Community Board 7 apparently will consider approving the Willets Point ULURP, subject to special conditions that the board has identified. While I do not support approval, I would like to suggest that there is one area of crucial importance that has been left out thus far.

The Economic Development Corp. has acknowledged that most of the Willets Point automotive businesses are tenants. They don't own the land where they are located. EDC claims that it is prevented from discussing relocation with tenant businesses at this time, because doing so would constitute interference in the existing tenant-landlord relationship. Accordingly, we know nothing about the effort that EDC will make, if any, to relocate existing tenant businesses, or to ensure that skilled automotive workers can continue to earn a living in that field.

Instead, EDC has discussed retraining automotive workers for other occupations. But where a business owner and his or her workers are highly skilled master mechanics with decades of experience, and where they already have a loyal clientele that relies on their services (on some days, they have more clients than workers available to handle them), and significant investments in equipment and tools, does anybody believe that it’s appropriate for them to start all over in another profession?

The skilled mechanics and business owners don't want to be retrained, and they should not be put in a position of losing their successful businesses due to this redevelopment. By their own estimate, at least 4,500 people (including family members) rely on income from the Willets Point automotive businesses. Landlords may be compensated when their property is taken for this project, but where is the compensation for harm done to tenant businesses and their workers, who will have nowhere to go?

Despite the area’s reputation, in my own experience the majority of automotive businesses in Willets Point are of the expert type I've described. Moreover, because of the certainty of finding services or car parts in Willets Point, the area attracts customers from Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island — even Canada. Its potential as a tax base is incredible. When I tell customers about the city’s plan for Willets Point, they all say the same thing: The city must recognize the value of the area for both automotive customers and employees, and ensure that it survives the redevelopment. So I believe that the first priority must be the survival of the existing businesses, which can be accomplished by relocating them, all together or in large clusters, to another area or areas appropriately zoned. If no such area presently exists, it should be created specifically for these businesses as an element of the proposed redevelopment. The city should construct an attractive, functional automotive row somewhere nearby, move the businesses there, and regulate them. The businesses should be indemnified against all losses that occur before, during and after the relocation. And, the city should aggressively advertise the new, relocated area. By taking these steps, the city would eliminate most of the anxiety and some of the resistance to the redevelopment plan, especially in the Corona area; and would introduce the element of dignity and respect for skilled people that has been lacking. Finally, New York City would “have its cake and eat it, too,” because we wouldn't lose what's good about Willets Point in the process of remaking it. However, EDC apparently does not plan to do any of this.

I respectfully suggest that if C.B. 7 is inclined to conditionally approve this redevelopment, that it include a provision in the June 30th resolution that obligates EDC to protect the interests of these hard-working New Yorkers by prioritizing business survival above retraining, and by requiring EDC to develop, publish and implement a comprehensive relocation plan for the automotive businesses. In my opinion, this is among the most urgent, compassionate and wise things that C.B. 7 can do under the circumstances.

Robert LoScalzo,

Whitestone

Don’t Get A Ticket

Dear Editor:

I’d like to warn drivers about parking their vehicles so they can avoid a whopping $165 violation. My wife and I recently went to visit a relative at Long Island Jewish Hospital Nursing Home. We parked on a residential street a few blocks away, specifically on the north side of 76th Avenue, west of Hewlett Street, just a block off of Lakeville Road. I’d rather walk the few blocks then shell out unnecessary money to park our car in a garage or outdoor lot.

Upon our return to our car, we found a summons in the window. Seeing no signs to indicate we were parked illegally, my wife and I were shocked to read we were blocking a pedestrian ramp. What ramp?Staring at the curb by the passenger door, I could make out some faded blue in one spot. There was a slight depression in the sidewalk covered in dirt and leaves, but absolutely no reason to think this was a pedestrian ramp. Under the car,a couple of faded white patches appeared after I pulled the car out, but nothing resembling any kind of white lines. Basically where I had been parked looked perfectly legal and we planned on fighting this summons.

Since receiving this outrageous summons, I have passed the same parking space on about a dozen occasions. There is always a car parked there with the familiar orange summons on the window.

I think it’s disgusting that unsuspecting visitors to the hospital are being fined for this ludicrous violation. I would never intentionally block a pedestrian ramp, especially seeing a visible ramp with clear white lines and a blue curb just a few spots away. There were no indications that I was blocking a pedestrian ramp where I was parked, but the police obviously know they can ticket cars there all day.

The city should have the curb, sidewalk, and street clearly marked if they want an area to be used as a pedestrian ramp.Keeping such an area clear of debris, with visible paint would be nice, if indeed it is to be used for pedestrians and perhaps people would know not to park there. For now, it’s just a trap to penalize and get money from innocent people.

Mark Lane,

Little Neck

Postal Rates

Dear Editor:

I notice that every time the postal stamp rates go up, there are messages all over the place. However, I do not see any notices when they yearly fees for Post Office boxes continue to go up. I have the smallest available P.O. Box and the fee in 2007 went up $16, almost 50 percent. No one was advised of this increase and the only time we were made aware of it was when we received our yearly bill.

I just received they yearly fee for my Post Office box and I notice the fee went up another $2; therefore, they yearly fee for the smallest box available is $58 a year. We have been told that the increase is due to the fact that our P.O. Box mail is conveniently delivered to our P.O. Box; and picking up mail is always fast and convenient. That is absolutely not true.

In the past if there was a piece of mail that was too large to put into our P.O. Box, a small notice/slip was put in the box advising us that there was mail being held for us that was too large to put into the box. You brought the notice/slip to the P.O. Box window and you picked up your mail. Now, if there is a notice/slip put into you box, you cannot bring it to the P.O. Box window, because the P.O. Box window is never open. Artickes of mail that are marked “Do Not Bend” or “Do Not Fold” are folded and bent and stuffed into the P.O. Box. If you ask for help or if you want to talk to the manager, you are given a rude answer or told “It’s not my job.”

Is this what we are paying our increased box fees for? Nothing has imporived; and as a matter of fact, things have gotten worse.

It is just a shame the way we are treated by the personnel in the Post Office. And as a senior citizen living on a small monthly income, these increases are indeed an added hardship for us. I wonder if anyone else feels the same about increased fees for poorer service.

Robert Horton,

Jackson Heights

Fight The Bike Lane

Dear Editor:

Skillman Avenue (and 43rd Avenue) is Woodside’s lifeline, connecting residential and commerical Woodside and Sunnyside. It is the main artery in and through our communities. The biking-advocacy lobby, Transporation Alternatives, maintains that Skillman Avenue is dangerous to pedestrians and bike-riders, and that Skillman Avenue must be “calmed.”

Transportation Alternatives reports that in the seven-year period, 1995-2001, there were horrors. Eleven pedestrian accidents on Skillman Avenue. Less than two per year. In my view, a fantastic safety record for a very busy street. Skillman Avenue deserves a safety award, and remember, most of the time the fault is the pedestrian’s not the driver’s.

The bike lane on 48th Street makes no sense. 48th Street is a bus route, and much busier than 43rd Street. The bike lane should be on 43rd Street. The bike lane should use 39th Avenue from 48th Street to 43rd Street, and across 43rd Street to join Skillman on its way to Queens Boulevard. At its June meeting, C.B. 2 overwhelmingly voted for this arrangement, with only two opposed.

Al Volpe,

Woodside

CORRECTIONS

In an article entitled “Randolph Fired, Mets Fans React,” the 1969 and 1973 Mets were described as “World Series-winning teams.” The Mets were in the World Series both years, but only won in 1969.

In an article titled “Special School Opens in Ozone Park,” it was incorrectly stated that the Martin De Porres School For Exceptional Children was opening a residential school inside the St. Mary Gate of Heaven School in Ozone Park. The Martin De Porres residential school will move into an old convent of the St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church in September.

Welcome to the discussion.