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Willets Pt. landlords hire lobbyist Lipsky

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A group of Willets Point property owners retained the services of lobbyist Richard Lipsky this week as they continue to build a team to fight the planned redevelopment of the Iron Triangle.

Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse President Jerry Antonacci said the group retained the services of Lipsky to complete a team he said will give them the best opportunity to battle the city’s plan to transform Willets Point into a sprawling mega-development.

The group has been working with Michael Gerrard, a specialist in environmental law, and Michael Rikon, known for his expertise in eminent domain battles, in its bid to halt the project, approved by the City Council in November.

“With Mr. Lipsky, we feel, combined with Mr. Rikon and Mr. Gerrard, that gives us the best 1-2-3 punch around to fight the abuse that the city has inflicted on us,” Antonacci said. “The city’s blatant rush to condemn has led us to start preparing for another injustice.”

Lipsky, a longtime lobbyist in New York City, has been a thorn in the side of many large businesses over the last several decades. During the course of his career, Lipsky has made a name for himself organizing public opposition, generally on behalf of small business owners, to large projects.

According to the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, which Lipsky has worked with for the last 25 years, he has been instrumental in stopping plans for more than 20 big-box stores entering communities in New York City.

Antonacci said Willets Point United, which represents dozens of property owners at Willets Point, has built up its legal and public relations team to battle the city’s expected use of eminent domain, which allows the government to take control of private property in certain cases.

The city has only made deals with about 20 of the more than 80 land owners at Willets Point and last month told TimesLedger Newspapers it plans to begin the eminent domain process this summer.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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