Friday, May 28, 2010

Assphalt Backwards

The Queens Tribune also weighs in on the hoopla over the opening of a city owned pothole filling facility in Willets Point-and raises some of the questions we have asked: "The City is hoping to make pothole repairs more efficient and environmentally friendly, using the plant, which uses recycled asphalt, to dispatch repair trucks and asphalt that are closer to the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan. However, the City also has plans to redevelop the area directly adjacent to the plant, removing and relocating the industrial businesses that currently reside there. Previously, the City Council passed a redevelopment plan for the "Iron Triangle" at Willets Point, a process that lurched forward in June 2008 when Community Board 7 approved the project; it established a precedent for trying to buy out all of the industrial companies there to make room for the redevelopment."

But does this make any real sense? The Tribune quotes our take: "Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for Willets Point United, said this was "Par for the course with the City," stating that it was operating "asphalt backwards" in purchasing and using an industrial plant while to trying to relocate others from the same neighborhood."

But the traffic irrationale caught the Tribune's attention: "The City states that the purchase of this plant will save more than 2 million miles of annual truck trips that are used to carry milled asphalt to landfills, reducing congestion and wear and tear on streets. However, the already clogged streets in the immediate neighborhood will be getting a more active plant with more trucks coming and going."

Our point exactly-a double entendre, to coin a phrase. Our previous observation bears repeating: "So, let’s get this straight. They are going to build this plant next to the 9 million square foot Willets Point development-the one that will generate 80,000 car and truck trips a day-and there rationale is, “reducing congestion?” Is there a better reason for believing that the term city planning is an oxymoron?"

And the beat goes on-underscoring just why the EDC-led development efforts need to be reined in, as Comptroller Liu has stated. Crain's Insider makes the point: "City Comptroller John Liu says the Economic Development Corp.'s influence in taxpayer-subsidized economic development is too big and the process by which it approves projects too opaque."

The entire development/land use process needs to be overhauled-in spite of all of the "merit system" rhetoric we keep hearing from the mayor. Apparently merit-kinda like blight-is in the eye of the beholder.