Anyone who wants to know why it takes so long to get any public works off the ground should study the efforts being made by lobbyist Richard Lipsky to block the redevelopment of Willets Point.
The city has been trying to convert the industrial area with its auto repair shops and salvage yards into a mixed-use development project with hotels, shops and housing.
Willets Point United, an organization that represents most of the businesses that have yet to be relocated, has been fighting to block the redevelopment. Thus far, it has been a losing battle. Last year it hired Lipsky and paid him at least $20,000 to lobby on its behalf. He claims the redevelopment will create traffic jams that will tie up the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central and Cross Island parkways.
At a recent meeting, Lipsky told a civic association the project would result in 80,000 new car trips each day.
Lipsky wants the state and federal governments to do an independent review of the impact the redevelopment will have on traffic. He rejected the study done by the city as part of the ULURP process, a study that has been approved by Borough President Helen Marshall.
He claims he is worried about gridlock and charged that the people who did the original traffic impact are in the pocket of the city and developers. But Lipsky is himself a paid lobbyist whose job it is to find any way to keep the redevelopment from moving forward. Ironically, he is creating gridlock.
Each year the redevelopment is delayed, the cost rises. As long as the remaining businesses are treated fairly and compensated for the cost of relocation, there is no reason why this project should not move forward.
We see no reason to bring in the state and federal governments to perform a traffic study that the city has already done. This is a waste of time and money.
We are uncomfortable with the use of eminent domain to seize property that will be used to benefit private enterprise, but Willets Point is an underused eyesore that brings down an entire area in Queens.
The development planned by the city will serve the greater good. It is time for its opponents and their hired gun to get out of the way.