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Queens Chronicle

The Willets Pt. scam

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

Re “Willets Point plan approved by Council,” Oct. 10, multiple editions:

The 40-some odd members of the City Council that approved the Willets Point plan were or should have been aware their vote did not make a significant change for the better to the plan approved in 2008. They turned a blind eye to the fact what they really approved was a 1.4-million-square-foot shopping mall at Citi Field and in so doing, knowingly ignored the opposition of the vast majority of Queens residents and groups, which among others included the 30-1 opposition vote of Community Board 3; the opposition by The Queens Civic Congress, which consists of 100-plus civic associations throughout Queens; The Roosevelt Avenue Community Alliance; and The Jackson Heights Beautification Group; and made a mockery of the Uniform Land Use Review Process and the requirement that if parkland is taken for a non-park purpose, it must be replaced.

One would have more respect for those members who voted affirmatively, if they owned up to the fact they were approving a prioritized mall, instead of pretending the mall was not involved. One would have more respect for them if they demonstrated an independent judgment instead of following the unwritten Council law that the Council member whose district includes the area in question (Ferraras) decides if a bill is to be enacted, and particularly in a case like that at issue where the involved community board disapproved the application by a vote of 30-1,

Land Use Committee Chairman Leroy Comrie’s said he “especially thanks all the advocates that came and made sure the projects were done to their concerns. They were heard and listened to as part of the process.” Political nonsense, The only ones he listened to and made sure to satisfy were the applicants. He had a deaf ear to the concerns of the opposition.

In thanking Council member Julissa Ferreras for her leadership he chose to ignore her own community board’s negative 30-1 vote.

Any person with a functioning brain knew the applicant’s claim that it required a prioritized Citi Field shopping mall as a financial engine to generate enough funds with which to construct the original Willets Point Plan approved in 2008, was absurd and untrue. Ignoring the speculation whether a mall will be a financial success, the applicants are multi billionaires with enough assets to construct the 2008 Willets Point plan, and particularly with getting the Willets Point land for $1 and a $99 million city subsidy. That Ferreras mouthed the developer’s claim a mall was necessary makes it clear that as far as she and the members of the Council who bought into that nonsense are concerned, it is the developers, the wealthy and the real estate moguls who are their true constituents not the little people, the poor, the middle class and small business.

It is to be noted that Council members Charles Barron, Danny Dromm and Dan Halloran had the intelligence and political courage to oppose the application. As to all the others it is pertinent to note Justice Louis Brandeis’ statement about the lack of transparency in government: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Those members who supported the application are now qualified in my opinion for admission to the Kingdom of Darkness.

Benjamin M. Haber

Welcome to the discussion.