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Photo: Nora Soong/Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Nora Soong/Wikimedia Commons

From frustration to relief, Flushing community activists and elected officials had mixed emotions over the demise of the Flushing West redevelopment project.

Mayor Bill de Blasio officially dropped the rezoning plan on Tuesday, despite previously supporting the proposal as a part of his affordable housing agenda. Councilman Peter Koo, who sent a letter to the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) objecting to the project over environmental issues, had celebrated the cancellation on Friday.

However, the Flushing Rezoning Community Alliance (FRCA) believes that affordable housing should be constructed regardless of the plan’s recent termination, noting that there are exploitative landlords in the neighborhood who harass, evict and exploit rent-stabilized tenants in their pre-existing affordable housing units.

“Flushing residents are currently suffering at the hands of notoriously bad landlords who are purchasing large numbers of buildings in the neighborhood,” said FRCA in a statement received by QNS on Thursday. “Although the rezoning will not move forward, Flushing’s housing crisis is far from solved. We need a strong commitment to an expansive preservation policy, like the Certificate of No Harassment and the Right to Counsel in multiple languages, as well as subsidies for developing additional units.”

While FRCA commended Koo, de Blasio and the DCP for stopping the Flushing West proposal, they urged the city to implement an alternative plan for affordable housing.

“The action to stop the rezoning by Council member Koo, the administration and the Department of City Planning, without first finding workable alternatives to build low- and moderate-income housing, further aggravates the affordable housing crisis … With or without the rezoning, the city has a responsibility to meet the overburdened infrastructure needs of the neighborhood,” FRCA suggested.

The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (FWPCLDC) also had a meeting at Queens Crossing in Flushing on Friday, where discussions were held to draft a letter to DCP director Carl Weisbrod. Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and the FWPCLDC intend to address the Flushing West Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) in a meeting with Weisbrod.

However, state Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Ron Kim along with Flushing’s Community Board 7, praised the DCP’s decision to dismiss the plan.

“The new zoning would have eliminated parking requirements and pushed an additional town’s worth of people onto the dangerously overcrowded 7 line. Instead of first cleaning up the Flushing Creek pollution, the pollution would have been made worse by the additional strain on sewer lines,” Avella stated in a press release Wednesday.

“The demand for more housing, especially affordable housing, in our city is understandable, but it should be balanced by a clear plan to address the affected local communities’ issues with limited capacity,” Kim said.

 

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