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An open letter to Borough President Helen Marshall:
A formal study is under way to determine if a portion of property at the former Flushing Airport site may be able to support construction and development of some kind. Willets Point businesses were optimistic that once the study is completed later this year, the airport site may turn out to be a significant part of the solution to our relocation dilemma, which remains unaddressed.
But it has come to our attention that — seven months before the airport site study will be completed — the city Economic Development Corp. has privately decided that the city will not relocate any Willets Point business to the Flushing Airport site.
Not only is the EDC’s decision a slap in the face to hundreds of Willets Point businesses, but the decision was made in response to a secret demand by Community Board 7 in exchange for its approval of an unrelated land use application now pending at your office: ULURP #C−090320−PPQ. We resent our businesses being mistreated as bargaining chips by CB 7 and the EDC and our relocation options being reduced as a consequence.
Willets Point businesses now are displeased because CB 7 made its demand of the EDC after the date of CB 7’s public hearing on the ULURP application that CB 7 linked to its demand. This maneuver by CB 7 has deprived us of any opportunity to address the membership of CB 7 and influence its position prior to its vote. We believe the CB 7 leadership did this to avoid a confrontation with Willets Point businesses.
We understand your public hearing on the application also has been held April 16, which breaks with the tradition of allowing an earlier land use review participating body — in this case, CB 7 — to complete its analysis and deliver its paperwork before the next decision−maker holds its public hearing.
Whatever reason you may have for doing this, it has prevented us from addressing you face−to−face at a public hearing to express our disapproval of the EDC’s premature and baseless prohibition of relocating any Willets Point business to the airport site.
It appears public officials would rather silence us and immediately deprive us of a potential good relocation site rather than collaborate with us and hold open a promising relocation possibility, at least until the site study is complete.
Even worse, while already denying any of us the possibility of relocating to the Airport site, the EDC has acknowledged that other businesses will be welcome to situate there if the site study shows the airport property can support construction and development. The only businesses singled out by the EDC as unwelcome at the airport site are the ones at Willets Point — a policy so discriminatory we wonder how it could have been approved by the EDC’s legal department.
We ask you to stand with us in requiring the EDC to put the airport site back on the table as a possible relocation site for some of our businesses, which are no less worthy of relocation than the five Willets Point businesses that are being welcomed into the College Point Corporate Park. No potential relocation site should be eliminated from consideration merely as the result of closed−door bargaining between the EDC and a community board over an unrelated land use application.
A site should be eliminated if it proves unsuitable for use, but we are seven months away from knowing if that is the case with the airport site. We suspect development suitable to our particular use is possible on some portion of the airport site. After all, our use would be no more demanding than the airport’s was.
Finally, when preparing your decision and recommendation in connection with pending ULURP #C−090320−PPQ, do not adopt the inappropriate and discriminatory condition established by CB 7.
Willets Point Defense Committee
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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