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"Willets Point must be cleaned up and we are taking the necessary time to finalize materials in preparation for ULURP," Yonit Golub, a spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp., said Monday. ULURP, or the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, is the process through which construction projects affecting the land use of the city are publicly reviewed.The project proposal is expected to include upward of 5,000 housing units, a 400,000-square-foot convention center, a 700-room hotel, a school and more than a million square feet of retail and office space. Comprehensive environmental remediation will also have to take place on the site, which the city said will cost tens of millions of dollars.Golub did not say how long the start of the seven-month approval process would be delayed. The project had initially been scheduled to start ULURP on Feb. 25, which would have triggered a seven-month clock during which Community Board 7, Borough President Helen Marshall and the Department of City Planning would each review and issue recommendations on the project before the City Council voted to approve or deny it.The EDC said a new date will be announced in the near future.The EDC's announcement came less than a week after City Councilmen Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), John Liu (D-Flushing) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) issued a letter to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and former EDC head Robert Lieber, announcing they will not support the city's plan in its current form."We are not prepared to give the EDC a blank check and we believe that neither are our astute colleagues in the City Council," the letter read.Liu said he supports the project, but several questions - including the compensation and relocation of current businesses and workers, the amount of affordable housing included in the project and the city's plans for the use of union workers throughout its implementation - which have been consistently posed to the EDC, have not been adequately addressed."We're asking roughly what is it going to involve. We're not even asking what it's going to look like," he said. "They keep saying they hear us, they hear us, they hear us. The EDC is hearing us to death but they're just not listening."The EDC maintained that its finalized proposal will answer many of the questions asked of them, but has also said that some aspects of the plan, such as affordable housing and the development and implementation of a workforce retraining program, could not occur until after the City Council approves the plan.Liu was miffed by such an idea."For the EDC to say they can't address it is just them talking out of the side of their mouths," he said. "We're not saying things have to be signed in blood but at least they should be penned in some kind of memorandum."Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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