Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Sense Flushed Away

The Flushing Times, setting a new standard for diminished intellectual capacity, unleashed an attack against us in last week's issue for trying to create an unneeded and undesirable delay in the development of Willets Point-and in the process so totally confused the paper's good readers about the facts at hand that it would be accurate to assume that the obfuscation was purposeful.

Here's there take: "Anyone who wants to know why it takes so long to get any public works off the ground should study the efforts being made by lobbyist Richard Lipsky to block the redevelopment of Willets Point.The city has been trying to convert the industrial area with its auto repair shops and salvage yards into a mixed-use development project with hotels, shops and housing.Willets Point United, an organization that represents most of the businesses that have yet to be relocated, has been fighting to block the redevelopment. Thus far, it has been a losing battle. Last year it hired Lipsky and paid him at least $20,000 to lobby on its behalf. He claims the redevelopment will create traffic jams that will tie up the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central and Cross Island parkways."

Oh my God! Where do you start trying to straighten out such confusion? In the first place, it should be pointed out to the paper's readers, that none of the businesses at Willets Point have been relocated-and precious few have even been paid for their property, as the city has withheld payments in these troubled economic times. And we're a bit confused about the nature of the, "losing battle," since no negative outcome has occurred since we were retained last year.

But having started out on this discordant and misleading note, the FT couldn't help but double down on inaccuracy: "At a recent meeting, Lipsky told a civic association the project would result in 80,000 new car trips each day.Lipsky wants the state and federal governments to do an independent review of the impact the redevelopment will have on traffic. He rejected the study done by the city as part of the ULURP process, a study that has been approved by Borough President Helen Marshall."

Well, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts." As we had pointed out-and it was reported by the paper itself, which makes you wonder whether this anonymous editorialist even read his own paper's story-Willets Point United had a problem with the new traffic report that was done for the proposed ramps.

Now we'll speak slowly here, and repeat what we had said-and what the Flushing Times had actually reported: "The issue, as always is the discrepancies between the original EIS and the ramp report submitted by EDC to the state: 'The group’s traffic concerns center around two ramps to the Van Wyck Expressway, which would be built in order to accommodate traffic to and from the new development.Lipsky argues that a traffic study the group commissioned found the project would lead to 80,000 new car trips per day and slow everyday traffic to a crawl on major surrounding roads, such as the Grand Central and Cross Island parkways and Northern and College Point boulevards.'"

Is that so confusing? But the editorialist, so intent on ad hominen attack, simply is incapable of understanding a simple declarative statement-and goes on in this fashion to expose his or her own gross ignorance: "Lipsky wants the state and federal governments to do an independent review of the impact the redevelopment will have on traffic. He rejected the study done by the city as part of the ULURP process, a study that has been approved by Borough President Helen Marshall. He claims he is worried about gridlock and charged that the people who did the original traffic impact are in the pocket of the city and developers. But Lipsky is himself a paid lobbyist whose job it is to find any way to keep the redevelopment from moving forward. Ironically, he is creating gridlock...We see no reason to bring in the state and federal governments to perform a traffic study that the city has already done. This is a waste of time and money."

The Flushing Times owes its readers an apology for this misdirection. As we said at Bay Terrace-and will repeat to all of the civic groups on our upcoming Willets Point Victory Tour-the Willets Point project will create gridlock throughout the borough's arterial infrastructure-a reality that can be gleaned from the city's own traffic study that the paper falsely claims we are challenging. It is this set of facts that have been corrupted by a new team of consultants that have apparently been brought in to confuse regulators at NYSDOT and FHWA about the realities expressed in the original EIS.

WPU, Lipsky, and traffic consultant Brian Ketcham, have only interceded to expose the gross discrepancies-and if there is a delay that will be fostered, it will not be because of anything done by the nefarious Lipsky; it will result from the attempt by the city and EDC to pull a fast one on the regulators. Our role? Exposing the lack of integrity, and getting the regulators to recognize this-so we'll accept a plea bargain on this point and admit our guilt.

But the most egregious aspect of the Flushing Times' ad hominen attack, is that it muddies the waters about what the city is trying to do-and how the Willets Point development will gridlock much of Queens. Better to go after the lobbyist messenger with the bad news than to honestly confront the real dangers that lie ahead for so many Queens communities should this project go forward.

And one last point. We have no intrinsic desire to delay this project-our only goal is to engage in its mercy killing. And as the facts on the ground here get exposed-and regulators delay out of a real concern for its traffic impact-the sound you'll begin to here in the background is that of the bugler blowing Taps for this unmanageable and wasteful Willets Point boondoggle.