Lawmakers slam city lease with Willets Pt. recycle firm

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State Assemblyman...

By Cynthia Koons and Lisa Schneider

Officials took a first step toward revamping Willets Point Monday when they called on the MTA to terminate its lease with a recycling company that occupies 13 acres of the industrial eyesore between downtown Flushing and Shea Stadium.

State Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) demanded that Evergreen Recycling of Corona move out of Flushing in order to eliminate what they called an unsightly health hazard in the region.

“This is unfair to people who live in the community and even more unfair to the people who want to develop the area,” Stavisky said a news conference held on College Point Boulevard.

Willets Point is the industrial focal point of the city’s redevelopment plans for Flushing. Ridding the area of the auto repair shops and waste management facilities in the Iron Triangle is a priority of city planners who want to see Flushing develop commercially and residentially from its busy downtown out to Shea Stadium. There are currently no residential units near Willets Point.

“This facility is not only a monstrous eyesore for Flushing residents, No. 7 train riders and drivers on the Van Wyck Expressway, but more importantly its very existence is a threat to the health of Flushing residents,” Grodenchik said.

Evergreen Recycling of Corona has leased the same property from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for about five years, Grodenchik said.

A representative for the MTA would not confirm the agency’s ownership or leasing of the Willets Point property as of Monday.

The MTA owns almost 25 percent of the Iron Triangle, which abuts the Flushing River, according to the officials. In city plans for the area’s revitalization, the waterfront is slated for bike trails and a promenade.

About two weeks ago, Grodenchik was appalled to see a 20-foot sand mound of construction debris outside Evergreen Recycling. Trucks driving to and from the 13-acre site in Willets Point have disturbed local residents, he said.

He and other downtown Flushing representatives said it is not the company they have a problem with, but they blame the MTA for continuing to lease the property to Evergreen Recycling.

“We realize (the MTA) has to make money to keep fares down,” Grodenchik said. But he said this 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week recycling operation was not suited to the neighborhood.

Stavisky estimated that in the next 10 years, hundreds of additional residents would live in new housing built in the region.

For some six months, area representatives said they have tried to convince the MTA to end its lease with Evergreen Recycling. As of Monday, the representatives said they had not received any response.

“I think they’re oblivious to what’s happening,” Liu said of the MTA. “I don’t think it’s malicious.”

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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