Lies and land grabs
An integral part of the Bloomberg administration’s misguided Willets Point project is the use of ramps to and from the Van Wyck Expressway to handle the expected huge increase in vehicular traffic the project will cause. This is so, since even without the project the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway are often clogged.
The traffic issue has not as yet been resolved nor approved by the federal and state transportation departments. Previously Bloomberg officials went on record that no attempt to take Willets Point property through eminent domain will be made until the ramps have been approved. In the devious manner in which the Bloomberg administration has proceeded, notwithstanding that the important ramp issue is still open, the city is beginning the eminent domain process that will destroy many small businesses, their employees and their families (“Willets Point owners dispute ‘underutilized’ tag,” March 10, multiple editions).
In an obvious attempt to hide from their agreement not to proceed without the ramp issue resolved, the city Economic Development Corporation now claims the issue is irrelevant at this time because the current eminent domain thrust dealing with “the first phase of the project does not require building the ramps.” This is a dishonest ploy, consistent with the manner in which the EDC has been operating. The game is clear. Once they get the first phase they will argue we cannot stop now. Just forget about the ramp issue and the traffic. Hopefully a court will see the charade for what it is, and hold the EDC to the letter of law.
Willets Point is just one cog in the Bloomberg juggernaut to dismantle the time-honored concept that eminent domain is to be used to acquire property for a public purpose, and not for the benefit of a private for-profit commercial real estate developer. Should this continue, all poor, middle class and small-business property owners have much to fear and will not know which neighborhood will be next. Bloomberg and his fat cat real estate friends do not recognize or even care that the middle class and small businesses are the backbone of this city. Perhaps the next mayor will see things differently.
In the next election the electorate would be wise to insist that as a condition for their vote, one seeking office makes a commitment to support legislation making New York the 45th state in this country that prohibits or severely restricts the use of eminent domain to take property for other than a public purpose.
Benjamin M. Haber
We all are grieving over the terrible loss of lives in Japan. The earthquake and the tsunami have left much death and destruction, but the U.S. military, like always, was one of the first in the relief efforts. Many nations are following our lead with food, medicine and supplies.
As a world we are many nations, often in conflict with one another, but it is heartwarming that we can all come together in this terrible disaster to help the people of Japan who are hurting. Like the song says, “We are the World.” In this sad economy many of us are hurting, but we all should give if we can, even ifit’sjust a dollar or so, for every dollar counts. Remember this: the good of the many outweighs the good of the one. Please give to the Red Cross or other organizations that are in the effort to help Japan in its people’s hour of need.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Keep it a veterans hospital
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently published a joint analysis of the extent of homelessness among our nation’s military veterans. The results were very troubling.
The analysis reported that as of 2009 there were 76,000 veterans who were homeless on a given night, and roughly 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year. Veterans now make up 12 percent of our nation’s homeless population and are 50 percent more likely to become homeless compared to all other Americans. The risk of homelessness among our veterans is even greater if the veteran is under the poverty line.
Our veterans deserve better from government. Queens County has a very large veteran population, and as a grandson of a World War II Navy veteran, brother in-law to be of a service member currently serving in Afghanistan and someone who works on a day-to-day basis helping find employment for veterans, I feel that we are shortchanging them.
A few weeks ago Congressman Gary Ackerman wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki urging the secretary to stop plans to redevelop the current VA hospital in St. Albans. The congressman suggested that instead of redeveloping the land privately, a new state-of-the-art, full-service VA hospital should be built. I couldn’t agree more with Congressman Ackerman.
As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan comes to an end our veteran population is soaring, and Queens will become home of many of these veterans. I urge all Queens residents to contact Secretary Shinseki and tell him not to leave any veteran behind. Let’s honor our veterans by building a new facility that will serve the Queens County veteran population for years to come.
Democratic State Committeeman, 26th AD
Weeping for a willow
On my walk through Maspeth the other morning, I passed a house on the block where I grew up, 69th Place off Eliot Avenue. I noticed that in its yard sat a wonderful weeping willow.The sun was shining low on its branches, which were still wispy since it is still too early for its buds to have sprouted.It created such a delicate screen-like effect that I was moved to photograph it.
While I was doing so, a woman who had just parked her car nearby asked what I was doing.This has been happening to me frequently these days, as people are more suspicious of anyone taking photographs — an unfortunate, though understandable, side effect of our times.When I explained that I simply thought it was beautiful and that as a pastime I enjoy walking and photographing in the neighborhood, she began to accept that I probably was not a terrorist plotting some diabolical plan against her tree.Rather, she told me that her family, the original owners of the more than 100-year-old house, was planning to remove the willow, and she thought that I might be the person they were expecting to come to discuss it. Apparently its roots have been playing havoc with the underground piping.
I bemoaned the eminent loss, and reminisced about how when I was a kid growing up on the block, my friends would conspire to “meet at the big tree” that used to stand in front of their house, partly in the roadway.That magnificent specimen was removed by the city many years ago.I also recalled that a fantastic willow that once stood in the front entrance garden to my son’s apartment house in Forest Hills fell victim to the tornado that came through last fall.Happily, I was told that the homeowner here intends to do some major landscaping and that a new tree will be planted in the yard, although not a willow.
Volunteerism, Act III
Since my volunteerism letter of Feb. 24 was addressed and I was cited by name, I am compelled to respond to the March 3 letter “Family first, civics second.”
In regard to postponed vacations and taking time from your family, my statement referred to the time one summer when a surprise open meeting was called to discuss a crisis decision that had to be made for our community of Woodhaven.This decision would have been made without the input of we the residents, if it weren’t for our community leaders — one of which had to postpone his vacation for two days — notifying and rallying our residents to attend. As a result of our leaders and residents being vocal at this meeting and getting so many to attend, the important decision was made in our favor.
It is a fact that every time you attend a meeting or do any community service, you do take time away from your spouses and children, no matter the amount of time. I agree that there is nothing in life more important than family and their well being. This is why they are the motivating factor for our volunteerism, for we want them to have a good quality of life and to live in a positive, safe environment. This is not being a martyr but being dedicated.
As to my statement about “individuals who get involved for the wrong reasons — self aggrandizement or the furthering of their own agendas or careers,” it is unfortunately a fact that community organizations do attract certain people who want to use them for personal gain. But being a true volunteer is, as I stated, rewarding and good for the soul.
I am very pleased that our Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association has attracted so many dedicated volunteers to work for the betterment of our beloved Woodhaven.For this is, when all is said and done, what we all want: to keep our Woodhaven strong and to work together to make it stronger.
Maria A. Thomson
The writer is executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp.
Ready for spring
With everything else that we have to deal with, now we also have to deal with this wild weather of late winter. The recent heavy rains caused widespread flooding throughout the tri-state area,which brought much stress to those people who live along rivers and streams in the area. Will this most recent heavy stormbe an omen to what the coming spring and summer will be like weatherwise? Only time will tell.
Like everything else in this world,the weather is also very unpredictable,and will always continue to be as such. There are just a few days left until spring officially begins. Let’s hope we will have a decent one, and also a decent summer.