Today’s news:

Willets group to clean Flushing River

Gov. David Paterson announced last week that he has designated $1.5 million to a Queens development corporation for the purpose of cleaning up and redeveloping the land along the Flushing River.

The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp. got the largest grant among 24 projects across the state to receive money through the state’s Brownfield Opportunity Area Program. The money will go toward determining appropriate reuses for the area, quantifying remediation costs and facilitating transit-oriented development with mixed uses adjacent to new public open space linked to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the governor said.

“The state’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program provides critically needed resources to transform thousands of brownfields and other dormant properties back to productive use to generate jobs for New Yorkers and revenues for local governments,” Paterson said.

The governor handed out more than $10 million in grants through the program. The Willets Point group received $1.5 million, making it the largest grant.

The brownfield program supports environmental remediation, community revitalization and job creation in communities that have been negatively affected by brownfield sites. Brownfields are dormant properties where contamination has prevented redevelopment.

Bordering the Flushing River, the $3 billion Willets Point redevelopment project has long been a source of controversy as developers and mayors have struggled for nearly 50 years to develop the 60-acre site that sits adjacent to Citi Field.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a plan that would completely demolish the neighborhood’s auto-repair businesses and salvage yards and replace them with a massive mixed-use complex. The plan would include more than 5,000 mixed-income housing units, a convention center, retail and office space and a hotel.

A large number of businesses in the neighborhood have opposed the project.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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