EDC must tread lightly on issue of Van Wyck Expwy. ramp in suit

City Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman Julie Wood’s belief that the EDC did nothing improper in initiating eminent domain proceedings, notwithstanding a prior commitment by state Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden not do so until it received state and federal approval for ramps onto the Van Wyck Expressway, is another example of the antithesis of good government in which the EDC has been operating in the matter of the Willets Point proposal (“Judge might reopen Willets suit against city,” Flushing Times, April 7-13).

The destruction of hundreds of small businesses and the loss of employment by thousands of workers and their dependents suggests that not only should the EDC not do anything improper, but should also not give the appearance of doing anything improper. The come-lately sleight-of-hand claim of separate phases is an obvious attempt to circumvent the Van Wyck ramp issue for the real fear it might derail the project and makes it clear the EDC fails on both the question of law and morality.

The EDC should be required not only to explain its failure to raise the so-called “separate phase” issue and a reservation of its rights with respect to the prior court hearing, but to respond to the following:

Assume the EDC takes possession of the so-called Phase 1 property and thereafter the ramp issue is resolved against it. That would mean the proposed project cannot go forward. Under those circumstances, the EDC agreeing to take Phase 1 property is meaningless. Would it not make more sense to resolve the ramp issue before any eminent domain proceedings are commenced, as was everybody’s understanding, including the EDC, at the prior court hearing before Madden?

Apart from whether the Willets Point project does or does not go through, the public is entitled to respect and fairness from public officials. One hopes that upon reflection, Madden lets right be done and the current eminent domain proceedings be halted.

Benjamin M. Haber