Monday, May 10, 2010

Premature Evacuation and CB #7

Our rant last week on the precipitous move of five Willets Point businesses over to the College Point Corporate Park apparently resonates with the views of CB 7's chairperson. As the Times Ledger reports: "While CB 7’s College Point Corp. Park Task Force had been aware of the plans, the board’s Executive Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian voiced opposition to the immediacy of the process, contending it could quickly put the board in a defensive posture because of the controversial nature of the proposal. “It’s not good, Tom, it’s not good,” Apelian said after a presentation by EDC Vice President Tom McKnight."

And this from the same Apelian who has enthusiastically supported most of the major development schemes that have come before his board in the last two years-so his concerns are not coming from the usual suspects (like us, for instance) Basically, Apelian is saying, "what's the rush?" But in our view, the haste exhibited by EDC is the bum's rush.

As we pointed out last week: "Facing an avalanche of bad publicity-not to mention potential deal killing setbacks from the state and federal traffic regulators-EDC is trying to regain at least some momentum. That is why, in a hastily arranged meeting last night at College Point, the agency met with CB #7 to discuss the relocation of three Willets Point businesses. But until they are certain that they will be able to move forward with the development (imagine if the Court of Appeals upholds the Columbia decision) this all amounts to little more than a premature evacuation."

The evidence of the haste is manifested by Apelian's observations-and EDC's response: "Apelian, who chairs the task force, took exception to the city plan, saying he was particularly irked that the proposal would be floated without detailed site plans and would address the businesses in two groups instead of separately. “Each one of these businesses has its owns issues and each one should be taken up separately,” Apelian said. “I’m shocked that you’re telling me you’re going to certify this next week. Shocked.” McKnight said the procedure is standard practice for the city. He said each of the businesses would be required to conform to the special zoning district proposed for the site and the board would be presented with detailed plans for each of the businesses following the first ULURP proposal. “We’ll come back to you and you’ll see the types of buildings that are going to be there,” he said. “As far as detailed site plans, we’re not at that point of specificity yet. This would just mean we have the authority to dispose of the property.”

Ah, yes-a hastily publicized move that can't be properly consummated until the completion of a land use review; so the hurry has to devolve from a set of ulterior motives. Hmm..We wonder what those motives could possibly be? Maybe Professor Lombino could elucidate for an ill-educated public. But, in true Robert Moses fashion, EDC is trying to accelerate things in order to alter the facts on the ground-and give the false impression that there's been a significant burst of momentum.

With the development on hold-stuck in a traffic jam, as it were-and $400 million needed dollars socked away from a higher and better use, it's time to put a halt to this wasteful charade. As we commented last week-and we'll give ourselves the last word: "In fact, it should behoove the city council members Halloran and Ferreras to step in on this hast makes waste move-particularly since the city is hoarding $400 million in this year's budget for a Willets Point deal that is shaky at best. A moratorium on all of these maneuvers is in order until the ramp situation is resolved."