By Connor Adams Sheets
A story of mended ties between two once bitter enemies in the highly contentious debate over the redevelopment of Willets Point caused a controversy among other stakeholders in the project, although the two men at its center have buried the hatchet.
Two years ago Willets Point business Feinstein Iron Works loudly criticized Community Board 7 and its leaders, including Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian, for the board’s views on the city’s multibillion-dollar plans for the Iron Triangle.
Dan Feinstein, the company’s president, made personal attacks against Apelian, CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty and several area politicians over their divergent opinions on what the future should hold for the 62-acre area.
But Apelian and Feinstein have gotten over those past problems, as reported in the Jan. 20-26 edition of TimesLedger Newspapers, and the pair now have an amiable personal and working relationship.
Feinstein, who did not respond to calls requesting comment, even went so far as to thank Apelian in December for helping him out when he was hammering out a deal with the city Economic Development Corp. to move to the College Point Corporate Park. With Apelian’s assistance, the company finally closed in December on a deal to relocate within the next several years.
Feinstein and Apelian had a discussion in the months leading up to the deal, during which time Apelian helped Feinstein with some paperwork free of charge. In the course of the discussion, they jointly came up with a plan for Feinstein to take an ad out in local newspapers thanking CB 7 for its service and saying that their battles were behind them, as the Jan. 20-26 article reported. Feinstein had yet to purchase those ads as of Tuesday.
But some community members saw the plan as a move by Apelian to bully Feinstein into showing deference to CB 7’s power, and three wrote letters to the editor — which were published in the following two editions of TimesLedger Newspapers — ripping Apelian and CB 7 for what they called their arrogance and misdeeds.
“It is disturbing that Apelian would also now attempt to leverage that assistance to push Feinstein to apologize for his remarks about CB 7 during 2008,” Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist who counts a number of Willets Point businesses as clients, wrote in his letter.
Apelian said this week he was surprised to open the paper and see the letters since he believes they were misguided and cast the tale in an unfavorable light.
“This was a story about two parties making peace in a very amicable way,” he said. “There’s been some controversy, and that’s what happens in reporting, but this is really a feel-good story. It was a mutual idea, not a demand, and we look forward to working together.”
Feinstein said much the same in December, when he made a point during an interview to say good things about the board he once slammed.
“We look forward to working with the local community and the community board in the years ahead. I’d also like to make a special thanks to CB 7 and their leadership for assisting us in helping the process move forward,” Feinstein said.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.