Avella protests plan for corporate park

Councilman Tony Avella rallies with College Point and Whitestone residents against city plans for the College Point Corporate Park. Photo by Stephen Stirling
By Stephen Stirling

City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) and dozens of College Point and Whitestone residents protested the city’s plans for the College Point Corporate Park Saturday, calling the area overrun with development and underserved by the mayor.

At the weekend news conference, held along a Whitestone Expressway service road at the corner of 20th Avenue, Avella and community leaders blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg for ignoring the interests of the surrounding community at the 550−acre corporate park.

“For too long the city has been trying to stick it to College Point,” said Steve Behar, an activist and candidate for Avella’s Council seat. “We’re to say we’ll stop these plans. We’ll lie down in the street if we have to.”

The city is in the process of attempting to complete several actions in the corporate park. First, a special zoning district approved by Community Board 7 is moving through the public approval process to replace an existing urban renewal plan that has been in place for 40 years, but expires this month.

Avella said the proposed zoning district does not go far enough in restricting unwanted uses from coming into the corporate park, such as adult establishments and heavy industrial businesses. The city is also currently trying to relocate five businesses from Willets Point to the area, a proposal that has drawn the ire of several community leaders, and Avella said this should not be allowed to occur.

“The city should provide the infrastructure for these businesses and let them stay where they are,” Avella said. “[The Willets Point redevelopment] was a stupid plan from the beginning. Now you see the fallout, with these so−called blighted businesses trying to be passed off on this community. That’s simply unacceptable.”

College Point resident Rosemarie Veljak said she was tired of trusting the “good faith” of businesses that have entered the corporate park over the last several years.

“It’s not what comes into the corporate park, it’s what follows it,” she said. “Every business has some sort of crazy angle.”

College Point Taxpayers Civic Association President Joseph Feminia said he has also been disappointed with the city’s unwillingness to set aside the 25−acre Flushing Airport site for soft recreation.

“What hurts me about all of this is we’re asked to take on all of these things, but we never receive anything,” Feminia said. “The airport site, this is the last thing left here. We just want to have something.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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