Thursday, February 5, 2009

Iron Triangle to City: Put Willets Point Money Toward Vital Services


Jake Bono, Spokesperson, Willets Point United (917) 334-7926
Jerry Antonacci, President, Willets Point United (718) 446-7297




(Queens, NY, February 5, 2009) Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse is a coalition of Willets Point business and land owners opposed to the taking of private property for private gain. WP United believes that during this current fiscal crisis, the $400 million set aside by the City of New York for land acquisition at Willets Point could be put toward better use.

During his most recent budget announcement, Mayor Bloomberg stated that the City would take Draconian measures to drastically reduce vital services. Here is a partial list of proposed cuts:

Police cuts: $48.9 million
Library cuts: $20.1 million
Fire Dept cuts: $17.0 million
Senior Center cuts: $ 5.3 million
Child protection cuts: $15.5 million
Teacher cuts: $91.2 million
Ambulance cuts: $ 3.3 million
Jail cuts: $ 3.4 million
Foster care cuts: $12.8 million
Homeless service cuts: $ 5.1 million
Parks cuts: $ 5.6 million

This list alone amounts to $228 million.

Jerry Antonacci, President of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse, stated, "The taxpayer money set aside for property acquisition at Willets Point could easily be redirected toward these agencies to prevent these cuts. There would also be enough left over to install a sanitary sewer system and fix the roads at the Iron Triangle and allow the property owners to stay, expand their businesses and let the area redevelop naturally."

Jake Bono, another business owner and member of the Willets Point group, agreed. "Why is there $400 million set aside to force business and property owners off their land while jobs for police, fire and teachers are being eliminated? Why in an economic downturn is the city spending money not only to destroy businesses and jobs, but to destroy the American dream of owning property? Government-abetted private land grabs were not what our founding fathers envisioned when they wrote The Constitution."

On November 13, 2008, the City Council approved a plan that would remove existing businesses from Willets Point and redevelop the 64-acre industrial site into a convention center, hotels, shops and housing to be built and owned by a private developer. The City has announced that it will use eminent domain to achieve possession, if necessary, and then turn the property over to the developer, who is yet to be chosen. Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse represents more than two dozen property owners who are fighting the City's plan to acquire their property.