My name is Jerry Antonacci and I am the President of Crown Container, a family owned and operated business in Willets Point, Queens. I am fighting the City of New York to keep the land where my father started this business in 1958. I am one of over 250 land and business owners fighting to keep Mayor Bloomberg from using Eminent Domain to take our land and kill our American dreams.
For the past 25 years, my neighbors and I in Willets Point have called and written and pleaded with the City of New York to provide us with basic infrastructure including repairs to streets and storm sewers, installation of sanitary sewers, and street lights. We were given assurances that the NYC DOT and NYC DEP would fix the problems. They never did.
We knew that if the City provided our businesses with the basic services we are entitled to as taxpayers – the area would be cleaned up. And in 1991, The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) conducted a study of Willets Point revealed which exactly that: if basic services were provided, the area would be revitalized on its own. The 1991 study made no mention of the need to relocate businesses in order to "clean up" the area.
We met with the EDC to discuss the "contamination" they claim cannot be cleaned up unless we leave. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by the Mayor and EDC. Months ago, the EDC and their consultant admitted to us that they did not find widespread contamination and that what they found was localized and could be remediated without removing the existing businesses.
And now, I sit in the Queens Community Board 7 meetings where they talk about the redevelopment plan and listen to the City say that Willets Point is blighted and needs to be torn down. Willets Point has been purposely neglected and that's why it looks blighted.
The EDC announced last week that after four years, they reached deals with two of the 260 businesses in Willets Point and claim to be negotiating with all businesses. But for most of the businesses in Willets Point – there are no deals to be made because there is nowhere for us to go. I operate a waste transfer station and I can't operate my business without special permits from the City and the State. I have yet to receive a written guarantee that I will receive those permits prior to relocating. If I don't get those – I'm out of business. What kind of negotiation is that?
Sitting at the Community Board meeting last week, I thought of my father and how he fought in Germany protecting other people's land. Now here I am fighting my City & country for the land my Dad worked hard for to keep his American dream alive. My father died two years ago just as the city started its fifth attempt in 25 years to take our land.
What's happening at Willets Point is wrong and un-American. I love Willets Point and want to stay where I am. I did nothing wrong but try to survive the neglect of the City for over 25 years. I feel like I was shot in the head by a doctor and now he wants to be the one to rehabilitate me.
If the City uses Eminent Domain to take away my land – it can happen to anyone. Please attend the final Willets Point meeting before Community Board 7 votes on Monday June 23rd at 7pm. The full Community Board vote on the plan is June 30th at 7pm. The location is: 33-23 Union Street, Flushing.
President, Crown Container
126-46 34th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11368