Monday, June 13, 2005

Olympics Redux

In a last ditch effort to salvage the city’s 2012 Olympic bid the mayor, Deputy Dan and the governor have reluctantly revisited the idea of a stadium in Queens. We say reluctantly because if you’ve listened to the West Side story over the past year you’d have learned one thing: No way is Queens a good site for an Olympic Stadium. In fact, the mayor had been down right rude in his assessment of this low rent alternative.

So now enter the Mets. There is a tentative deal in place to build a new stadium for the team and, at the same time, revitalize the Willets Point area. And, lo and behold, all the elected officials who opposed the Manhattan stadium are on board for the Queens alternative. Think of how much could have been accomplished if the bulldozer boys had used some political acumen two years ago.

Wither Willets Point?

Which brings us to the plan to revitalize Willets Point. Can anyone say Bronx Terminal Market? There are scores of small businesses in the area who have been there for twenty, thirty and even forty years. But you see, these are not the chic kind of entrepreneurs that the city’s economic development hot shots tend to gravitate towards.

Let’s be clear on this before the euphoria becomes a contagion. Mr. Alper, don’t come up with any revitalization plan that doesn’t adequately look to keep the Willets Point businesses alive, well and flourishing. These are business people, many of whom are home owners and stakeholders in the city’s economic well-being, and they need to be protected. If that doesn’t happen you’ll have an unnecessary fight on your hands. Let’s hope the city planners have learned something from the previous stadium failure.