Community opposes LIC waterfront project; demands elected officials create more park land

Waterfront proposal
Photo via LIC Coalition Change.org page.

As the city envisions a new future on the Long Island City waterfront with towering residential buildings, commercial and industrial industries, a new school, and office and art space, many in the community believe the proposal is missing a key element: park land.

The Long Island City Coalition has created a petition opposing the Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) Request for Proposals (RFP) to create a massive 1.5-million-square-foot mixed-use development on two undeveloped, city-owned lots on 44th Drive, known as the TF Cornerstone project.

The petition calls for the city to use the undeveloped land to create more open space and park land, and preserve Lake Vernon — which is not a part of the RFP.

“We the Community are tired of the City’s promise of affordable housing at the expense of open/public space, and in exchange for massive density that further contributes stress to the waterfront and the flood plane [sic],” the petition states. “We are offering the City a chance to show its constituents that their cry for public open space and for protection of the environment is heard.”

The LIC Coalition has three specific requests: they want to protect and preserve the land located in the flood plain as a natural wetland in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem, protect against future flooding, and provide educational opportunities for the community; support Community Board 2’s (CB 2) request to seize and protect Lake Vernon; and dedicate the 44th Drive RFP site as park land.

The petition — which, as of Thursday, Aug. 17, has 274 supporters out of the 500 signatures needed on change.org — will be delivered to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, and Community Boards 1 and 2.

“We demand our elected officials to help us put forth a solution. We, as residents and business owners, are dissatisfied with the way open space has been ‘planned’ for, ‘protected,’ and ‘maintained’ to this point,” the petition reads. “Families live here. People work here. Much of our livelihood is sourced here. A reasonable ratio of development to active open space is critical to the health, safety and overall well-being of residents and to the environment.”

The proposed project is designed to include 100,000 square feet of light industrial space, 400,000 square feet of commercial space featuring incubator spaces, at least 1,000 units with 25 percent of them affordable, an arts and technology accelerator, classroom space for workforce development and career training and office space, a 600-seat school, 19,000 square feet of retail space, and more than an acre of open space with a canoe and kayak launch point.

To view the petition, click here.