"The city should deal with them fairly," he said. "Whatever deal should include the businesses." He has not taken a formal position on any redevelopment of the area, his aide said.Monserrate led reporters through the flourishing area packed with auto repair and welding shops in an effort to improve the negotiating position of business and landowners in the area known as the Iron Triangle in any future redevelopment plans.He noted that the businesses were displaying state registration signs. "I want to debunk the misinformation that these establishments are not complying" with local laws, he said.An auto parts dealer, Hamid Mashriqi, said the city was harassing owners with tickets while performing very few services."We here pay more than $10 million in real estate taxes and look at the streets," he said, indicating the nearly unpaved road underfoot.In the gritty world of Willets Point, where a 7 inch deep pothole 10 feet long remains unrepaired, the hundreds of employers and their thousands of workers feel abandoned by the city considering plans to raze the 48 acres and redevelop the site.The Economic Development Commission is considering eight proposals for the land, whittled down from 13, Borough President Helen Marshall said in a speech this month. She said any plan would probably include a convention center.Monserrate said the city should improve the quality of the infrastructure in the area, which suffers from destroyed or unpaved streets, and poor lighting."As a good faith measure, the city should repave all this first before they do anything," he said.The city Department of Transportation planned to conduct some pothole repairs in the area this week, an agency spokesman said.Business owners in the neighborhood remained divided over whether the land should be redeveloped. They fear the city will exercise its right of eminent domain to force property owners to sell.Joseph Ardizzone, who owns two pieces of property in Willets Point, was adamant that he did not want to leave."I can't find any reason the city should take my property," the 73-year-old said, speaking beside Monserrate during the constant rumble of passing cars in search of repairs. "It is devastating what the city is doing with us in the area."Other store owners would consider leaving, but said they were due some city assistance."First of all we don't want to leave," said Hafiz Khan, co-owner of BCA Used Auto. "But if the city forces us to leave, we want some compensation."Monserrate told business owners that he expected to hold meetings with them over the next week or two. He said he also planned to release a study of the potentially affected businesses compiled by Hunter College students through funding provided by his office.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2006 Community News Group
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