Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Pointed Knife of Willets

In yesterday's Crain's Insider (subscription), there's an item about Willets Point that was as predictable, as it was disturbing: "Councilman Lew Fidler, D-Brooklyn, says his colleagues, who usually follow the local member on land-use decisions, could buck tradition when they vote on the Willets Point plan Nov. 12. Queens Councilman Hiram Monserrate will oppose the project unless the city adds affordable housing and minimizes condemnations. But Fidler says Willets Point has benefits for the entire city, which could lead to approval even if Monserrate votes no. Flushing Councilman John Liu agrees that members don’t see the project as a local issue. Fidler, who hasn’t taken a position, believes the city and Monserrate will compromise."

Now, let's be clear, almost any land use item can be seen as having city wide implications, and the Fidler Ultimatum-after all, what else can it possibly be?-is designed to pressure Monseratte to compromise. But what is Fidler doing making this statement? Where's his involvement or interest-other than becoming the mayor's cats paw? And what about the 33 members who joined with Monseratte to oppose the plan?

All of which indicates to us that the council may well become divided along mayoral/non mayoral lines; or perhaps Fidler is wearing the labor banner on this. One thing's very clear, however. The council is making a mistake to approve any plan without a developer-EDC says it will now re-bid the project-or any concrete development plan. That, on top of the local member's disapproval, should be enough. If it isn't than another shame on the body.