CB 7, city compromise on Flushing Airport site

By Stephen Stirling

Community Board 7 struck an 11th hour deal with the city Monday that sets aside a portion of the abandoned Flushing Airport site, paving the way to move five Willets Point businesses to the College Point Corporate Park. CB 7 voted to approve the plan unanimously.

The compromise between board leaders and the city Economic Development Corp. states that eight acres of the 25 acres of developable land at Flushing Airport will be set aside for parks uses or remain untouched permanently, while the other approximately 17 acres would be protected pending a feasibility study being conducted by the city. Should the city deem that those 17 acres could be developed, the EDC said they would work with the community board on a plan that the community would find agreeable.

“I think this demonstrates that there is a partnership between us and this community board,” said EDC Vice President Tom McKnight. “We have worked with this board and we have an understanding that we will continue to work with this board.”

With the agreement, CB 7 unanimously voted to approve moving five Willets Point businesses — Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage, Flushing Towing, T. Mina Building Supply Co., Met Metals and Feinstein Ironworks — to the more than 500−acre corporate park and move asphalt plant Cofire Paving Corp. to a new location.

The deal was authenticated in a letter sent to CB 7 by EDC Vice President Madelyn Wils Monday. The agreement also includes a stipulation stating that no Willets Point businesses will be moved to the Flushing Airport site even if it is deemed a feasible use by the city, which members of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse said was discriminatory.

“No government agency can deny a business eligibility to participate in relocation discussions concerning particular properties, exclusively because of that business’s present address,” said Willets Point United President Jerry Antonacci.

Several board members questioned the trustworthiness of the EDC, who at times has had an icy relationship with the board, but CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said the agreement is a great accomplishment for a group whose role is largely advisory.

“I feel good about it, I think it’s pretty outstanding,” he said. “I mean, things change all the time. Of course, anything that is promised, anything that’s written it can all be undone, but what else are you going to go by?”

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

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