A fraught relationship between three big-name players in the Willets Point redevelopment discussions has reached a happy detente just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty and Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian went through a long rough patch two years ago with Feinstein Iron Works, a Willets Point business that was vocal in its opposition to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process, which the Iron Triangle had to undergo.
Dan Feinstein, the company’s president, was particularly critical of Kelty, Apelian and several elected officials whose opinions about the future for Willets Point businesses did not jive with his company’s wishes, according to Apelian. Feinstein did not return calls for comment.
“It wasn’t just a business thing. They were personally attacking Gene and me and, no bones about it, we took great offense to that,” Apelian said.
But what goes around often comes around, and late last year Feinstein Iron Works was hoping to close with the city Economic Development Corp. on a deal to move to the College Point Corporate Park. The deal was all set to move forward, except there was one small issue: a neighboring property that is to be the new home of Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage, was a little bit too narrow for trucks to get in and out, according to Apelian. Feinstein did not want to give up any property for that use, so he hoped to secure an easement to allow Sambucci Bros. to use part of his driveway only for truck access.
EDC did not have a problem with such an easement, Apelian said, except that the department said CB 7 had to sign off on it before it would approve it.
That is where Apelian came back into the picture. After Feinstein’s accusations and scorn, Apelian did not feel too friendly toward the company. But he swallowed his pride and took care of the problem anyway.
“It’s a unique story where you would think that either a grudge could be held or revenge or retribution could be in order, but we didn’t do that,” Apelian said. “It’s just not who we are. We supported him as a member of the community and they supported him.”
Instead, Apelian spent several hours rewriting the easing document, which he described as “poorly written,” and supported it moving forward. The work was tedious and like all community board work unpaid.
“So after about a dozen of e-mails back and forth, tongue in cheek I said to Feinstein, ‘I should bill you for this.’ He said, ‘you should.’ I said, ‘no, what I’d like is a public apology,’” Apelian said. “Say that CB 7 in the end was there for you and that they serve the community well, and despite the rocky history in the past between the board and Feinstein, they were there for him, Community Board 7 was a stand-up organization and they backed him as a member of the community and they supported him.”
So Apelian has asked Feinstein to take an ad out in the Flushing Times and Whitestone Times to say just that. Feinstein had not taken out such an ad as of Tuesday afternoon. Last month, after the city closed on the deal for his company to move to the corporate park, Feinstein had nothing but praise for CB 7.
“We look forward to working with the local community and the community board in the years ahead. I’d also like to make a special thanks to CB 7 and their leadership for assisting us in helping the process move forward,” Feinstein said last month. “They were very helpful in their guidance, their support and their continued interest in seeing this move forward.”
Feinstein plans to close his existing business and re-open in the new location in “a few years.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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