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June 20, 2008

Willets Point Owners Given In And Sell

City Makes First Buyouts at Willets Point

After months of trying to cut deals, the city has made its first two agreements to buyout landowners at Willets Point, the 61-acre site by Shea Stadium slated for redevelopment, the city announced today. The first to give in were Sambucci Bros., an auto salvage business, and BRD Corp.
Well the first question to ask is, is this a good thing or a bad thing for the area? Naturally there are pros and cons.

That is two less properties that the city has to deal with perhaps making the process from "blighted" to "properly utilized".

This shows good faith by the city that they are willing to negotiate in good faith.

The sooner these properties are acquired the sooner the clean up begins.
Unfortunately to rehabilitate this process will probably take years as the contamination is miles deep. The clean up will fair better to the environment surrounding Willets Point.

The more leverage the city has the more likely Eminent Domain will be used to remove the last standing businesses.

If this is so then a proper plan may not be in place, poor planning is not acceptable. Not in todays age with the information we have available to access what is most beneficial for the neighborhood.

Current Conditions:
  • Willets Point suffers from widespread petroleum contamination, with additional potential contamination from paints, cleaning solvents, and automotive fluids.
  • Environmental hazards are exacerbated by a high water table that spreads pollution throughout the site, endangering adjacent water bodies.
  • Most of Willets Point lies within the 100-year flood plain, necessitating a significant increase in grade across the site before modern infrastructure can be installed.
Current Plans:
  • Thousands of housing units serving a mix of incomes and demographics
  • Exciting new retail and entertainment amenities
  • A new, high-quality hotel
  • New York City’s first non-Manhattan convention center
  • Office space
  • Open space, parks, and playgrounds
  • A new public school to meet the needs of the growing community
  • LEED-certified green buildings and infrastructure
This is where I have a problem. We are talking about heavily polluted area, one of which no matter how many years of remediation will never return to a livable area. I also understand that dumping grounds and polluted landscapes are a number one candidate for public housing. In addition they proposed a school to be built on the area, endangering our youth and unfortunately given by the "mix income" housing the majority of children likely to become sick are the lower middle class and working class. New parks and playgrounds? same argument as before, and I guess Flushing Meadow Park is not big enough. In my opinion Willets Point should be turned into a commercial area. Perhaps similar to what Atlas Park has become. Bars and Restaurants within walking distance of Citifield would also be beneficial to the fans. Now if you want to make an argument that these bars in proposing would bring down the area or something along those lines, take a look at the "Pitch and Putt" golfing area which serves its own beer. If you think areas like Willets Point can be made reasonably safe for residents? take a look at other similar areas and the link to cancer. See Love Canal.