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Showing a friend from Toronto the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, I came across a photography display entitled "Eminent Domain." I found it interesting because in Queens and other boroughs city officials want to give private property to developers using eminent domain if necessary. This display concerns eminent domain of the visual realm; my interest in Willets Point's Iron Triangle concerns protecting private real estate ownership.

The display is in the library's D. Samuel and Jean H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall on the main floor opposite the main entrance. The display features recent photographic projects by five contemporary New York-based photographers. The exhibit runs through Aug. 29; admission is free.

The exhibit has photos of daily life in Chinatown, streets in lower Manhattan showing how the city's character is changing due to development, elevated subway cars and changing city spaces and the uses they are being put to by urban planners and developers.

Developers are using eminent domain to get public officials to condemn private real estate for private use to build things "for the public good" while making a great deal of money for themselves. Development-minded public officials are only too happy to help.

On April 26, 2007, the Fresh Meadows Times published one of my columns, titled "Eminent Domain rears its head in the Iron Triangle." Today, this proposal and proposals by Columbia University, for the Hudson Yards, Atlantic Yards and Coney Island, are concerned with private landowners' rights vs. the right of eminent domain as practiced by local municipalities.

In June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kelo vs. City of New London, Conn., that New London could take private land by eminent domain so a private builder could develop a project to benefit the city economy. The basic right of private property, which helped start the Revolutionary War, was eroded.

States can pass their own laws or a new Supreme Court ruling could override this ruling. But right now, it is the law and developers have come forward to propose "great" projects using private property.

Some developers have big organizations and lots of money. Often, much of their money is borrowed the way homeowners borrowed money to create the current real estate crisis. Developers know how to cultivate people to go along with their ideas. There is the promise of jobs for construction workers, new jobs for other people and higher paid jobs for all kinds of specialized people. The projects take land from private owners and make a lot of money for many different people with the original owners thrown aside.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The inoculation of children against childhood diseases has been a blessing. For almost a century people had their children vaccinated with few problems. In the past few years, however, there has been a staggering number of children developing autism. It seems that now one in six children has some form of autism and attends special education classes. Parents are trying to find out why.

Since the 1980s, the number of shots children under 5 received increased from 10 to 36, with 33 of these vaccinations given before the age of 1 1/2. Is this too many? It seems chemicals such as mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde and antifreeze are used in these vaccinations as preservatives. I do not know what to believe and I have another grandson coming in September.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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