Today’s news:

EDC skirts Van Wyck ramps issue by using eminent domain excuse

An integral part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s misguided Willets Point project is the use of ramps to and from the Van Wyck Expressway to handle the expected huge increase in vehicular traffic the project will cause. This is so that even without the project the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway are often clogged.

The traffic issue has not as yet been resolved nor approved by the federal and state Departments of Transportation. Previously, Bloomberg officials have gone on the record saying that no attempt to acquire Willets Point property through eminent domain will be made until the Van Wyck ramps have been approved.

In the devious manner in which the Bloomberg administration has proceeded, notwithstanding that the ramp issue is still open, the city is now beginning the eminent domain process that will destroy many small businesses and their employees and families (“Willets backers plan to reopen suit against city,” Flushing Times, March 3-9).

In an obvious attempt to hide from their previous agreement not to proceed without the ramp issue resolved, the city Economic Development Corp. now claims that the ramp issue is irrelevant at this time because the current eminent domain thrust dealing with “the first phase of the project does not require building the ramps.” This is a dishonest ploy on the part of the EDC consistent with the manner in which it has been operating.

The game is clear. Once we get the first phase, it will argue it cannot stop now, so just forget about the ramp issue. Hopefully, a court will see the charade for what it is, let right be done and hold the EDC to the letter of the law.

It should be noted that Willets Point is just one cog in the Bloomberg juggernaut to dismantle the time-honored concept that eminent domain is to be used to acquire property for a public purpose and not for the benefit of a commercial real estate developer. Should this continue, all poor, middle-class and small business property owners have much to fear.

Bloomberg does not recognize — indeed, even care — that the middle class and small business are the backbone of this city. Perhaps the next mayor will see things differently.

Benjamin M. Haber


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