Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city Economic Development Corporation have not demonstrated why a 700-room hotel in an area besotted with hotels, a 400,000-square-foot convention center, upscale shops and minimal affordable housing justify the destruction of 225 viable businesses in Willets Point and dislocation of over 1,300 employees and their families.
Nor have they justified ignoring the fact that all Queens City Council members save two have opposed the Willets Point proposal ("City Council members pan mayor's Willets Point plans," TimesLedger, April 24, 2008). In seeking a ULURP hearing for a zoning change in the face of the above, the mayor and EDC made clear their indifference to small businesses' and their employees' plight to favor fat cat developers ("City unveils three new Queens rezoning," TimesLedger, April 24, 2008).
This is unparalleled arrogance and exhibits contempt for the little people. Such underhandedness does not serve the public interest nor inspire confidence in good government. Openness is the pillar of a democratic process something lacking in the Willets Point matter.
Willets Point is economically viable. The city would be hard put to prove that a Gucci store would serve any greater public interest than the businesses in Willets Point. One hopes the Willets Point businesses fight this proposal and, if need be, take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. One also hopes Community Board 7 sees this proposal as a tax payer rip-off and rejects the zoning change request.
Benjamin M. Haber
©2008 Community News Group
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