In a 21-15 vote, Queens Community Board 7 gave its approval to Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for Willets Point redevelopment, after a marathon meeting that ran to 1 a.m. this morning.
The advisory opinion moves the approval process forward to the desk of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who will also issue an advisory opinion on July 10th. The board’s approval was eased by promises from the city’s Economic Development Corporation to include the Community Board in future issues surrounding Willets Point, as well as a pledge to use eminent domain only as a last resort. If, as expected, the Borough President approves of the plan, the next step will be the City Council where Councilmember Hiram Monserrate has claimed that the plan has “zero chance” of approval.
Earlier this year 20 Councilmembers co-signed a letter with Monserrate expressing their deep concerns with the city’s plan for the area.
Since then, the city began its land acquisition process, striking a deal with two landowners to buy up property for the redevelopment plan. Those who oppose the project have raised a variety of concerns including potential traffic congestion which might require state-level action to resolve, and residual environmental hazards that might threaten proposed public spaces and a K-8 school included in the city’s development plan.
Reaction to the decision was mixed. From those opposing the city’s plan, reactions went from mild resignation from blog Queens Crap, to outright disappointment and rage from old-New York aficionado Jeremiah Moss. Supporters of the project include some Mets fans, who showed their enthusiasm in several fan-blogs.
Like other large-scale developments in New York, the overhaul Willets Point remains no-done deal, though last nights decision puts more steam behind the Bloomberg Administrations drive to transform the Willets Point ‘Iron Triangle.’