21 April 2008

Save Our Ship

Monserrate and Council Colleagues

Denounce Certification of Willets Point

CITY HALL – Council Member Hiram Monserrate along with 28 of his Colleagues denounce the New York City Economic Development's April 21, 2008 Certification of the Willet Point redevelopment plan.

Below is a letter sent to Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber regarding Certification of the plan which has been deeply-flawed and has lacked the opportunity for public consideration and input. The Member of the New York City Council are concerned by the decision to pursue ULURP certification for this project.

Dear Deputy Mayor Lieber,

We are writing to adamantly oppose moving forward with the current redevelopment plan for Willets Point. The plan is deeply-flawed and the opportunity for public consideration has been dangerously absent. We disagree with your decision to pursue ULURP certification for this project on Monday, April 21st, 2008. As elected officials, we urge you to reconsider this plan and to engage in a more accessible and transparent process.

This sweeping plan includes the purchase or use of eminent domain to acquire 61 acres of privately-owned land. This plan would displace more than 250 businesses, which employ 1,711 workers. The plan provides no guarantees that the displaced workers and small businesses will be treated fairly or compensated with meaningful benefits to the surrounding communities such as housing affordable to the average family.

This plan is unacceptable, and we wish to inform you that without significant modifications, we will strongly oppose it, leaving no chance of it moving forward. If the plan does not meet basic standards of public benefit, there can be no justification for this broad use of public authority and funds, and we will not allow the redevelopment to take place.

We have frequently expressed our desire to work with this administration to create a successful redevelopment plan. We are disappointed that our deep reservations have gone repeatedly unaddressed. Businesses that depend on their relationship to each other should be relocated in clusters. Existing workers should be provided with a range of good options for their economic futures, with special programs offered to the most vulnerable among them. Permanently affordable housing should be developed on the majority of the site. A third of the housing should be reserved for households earning $25,000 a year or less, and another third for households in the low-moderate and middle income ranges.

Your decision to push the project forward into ULURP without public discussion indicates to us that you are not serious about ensuring that the project meets the basic standards of public benefit and fairness required for a redevelopment of this magnitude and this level of public investment.

As the plan currently stands, it has no chance of surviving the public review process. We urge you to come to the table and work with us. We need to address the principled concerns that have been expressed by community members and elected officials alike, in time to revise the plan in advance of the first public hearing on the project. It is in everyone’s interest for a successful and sustainable Willets Point. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality.


Hiram Monserrate

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