Round two set for Willets showdown

The fireworks may have ended for most of the city on July 4, but they are sure to be back outside Queensboro Hall as Willets Point workers and landowners plan a protest prior to Borough President Helen Marshall’s land use public hearing on the project later that day.
City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer are expected to join hundreds of protesters on Thursday, July 10 to denounce the city’s current plans for redevelopment project and the possible use of eminent domain at the site.
“It is irresponsible for the Borough Board to approve this project in its current form,” Monserrate said. “We need answers to hard questions before we write a blank check for this project.”
The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has developed extensive plans for the approximately 60-acre Willets Point site that would include 1 million square feet of retail shops and restaurants, 500,000 square feet of office space, 5,500 units of housing, a K-8 school and convention center in an area often described as blighted.
For the last two years, Marshall has praised the city’s plan for Willets Point, and the land use hearing, will begin the second phase of the Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
“The redevelopment of Willets Point will bring much needed affordable housing to Queens, a convention center that will spin off economic revenue not only for Queens, but the entire city and help clean up the environment in Willets Point and in Flushing,” Marshall’s Chief of Staff Alex Rosa said recently.
Meanwhile, Dan Feinstein, President of Feinstein Ironworks and a member of the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA), said that his group would call on Marshall to investigate Community Board 7 (CB 7) Chair Gene Kelty and CB 7 Willets Point Committee Chair Chuck Apelian for actions he termed bizarre and inappropriate during the June 30 meeting.
“It seems they were trying to shove down the throat of the Community Board, their own agenda,” said Feinstein, whose group will release a videotape of the meeting detailing their complaints.
CB 7 approved the city’s Willets Point plan by a 21-15 margin, a vote which contained a proviso that the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) agree to implement some board recommendations into the plan as it moves along.

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