Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pointing Towards the Exit

It should come as no shock that the city commissioned study of Willets Point has found that the area is blighted. You do often get what you pay for. As the Daily News points out this morning: "Riddled with crime and defiled by pollution, Willets Point is a "burden on the health of the city's residents and economy," says a new report that could remake the future of the so-called Iron Triangle in Queens. The study of the gritty industrial zone - a draft copy of which was obtained by the Daily News - signals the city is preparing to use eminent domain to transform Willets Point into a glitzy mega development, experts said."

That the area has been run down is obvious to anyone who has ever set foot in the triangle property. That doesn't take away, however, from the fact that it is also a hub for a great deal of business activity-moreover firms that are mostly run by immigrant entrepreneurs.

And it dosn't take away from the fact that the blight is a result of the city's own neglect of the area for decades: "But Mark Gerrard, an attorney suing the city on behalf of several Willets Point businesses, argued the city is attempting to profit from a problem it caused by "its refusal over decades to provide the community with the basic services."

We have seen how city paid for studies get the results that the city itself has been looking for. We remember how the city-sponsored study on commercial waste determined that the waste transfer stations that were concentrated in certain low income neighborhoods did not contribute to the degrading of those local environments. And we vividly recall the study that purported to show that the eviction of the BTM merchants would be no economic loss to the city.

The current city study is just another put-up job; one that is designed to pave the way for the eviction of hundreds of businesses and thousands of minority workers. All for the greater good-of the real estate firm that is anointed to redevelop the area.