[Arturo] Olaya and the Willets Point Defense Committee represent the nearly 200 businesses at Willets Point who rent their property from a landlord and have little leverage in the fight to redevelop the area as a result. Nonetheless, the group has been one of the most vocal critics of the plan — demanding that businesses be relocated and those that rely on one another to be moved together in clusters.
“We’re waiting for justice, you know? We’re waiting for these councilmen to say, at least give justice to these people. But we don’t know if that’s going to happen. We’re just waiting,” he said.
“It’s the same thing all the time, the city is neglecting us,” Olaya said. “When we went to the hearing, I talked at 4:00 in the afternoon and there was only one councilman there. When Lieber was there, there was 15. They never want to listen to us.”
Olaya, tenant businesses ‘waiting for justice’
Today, Mayor Bloomberg met about the plan with groups of council members, including the Brooklyn and Queens delegations, according to one member. Even with another contentious issue on the horizon--property taxes--the mayor devoted the meeting to the issue of Willets Point. He and other officials, including Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber, gave their pitch on the plan and fielded questions on cost, the environment and other aspects, according to one in attendance.
The project--which seeks to remake an industrial area in Queens near Shea Stadium, in part through eminent domain--has caused a fair amount of controversy, mostly stemming from the possible widespread use of eminent domain. The local council member, Hiram Monserrate, has strongly opposed the plan as presented, but has consistently left open the door for an agreement. If he votes against it ultimately (the council must vote by Nov. 18), the city would have to try to round up enough votes from the rest of the membership, a tall task as most typically defer to the local representative.
Bloomberg Steps Into Willets Point Lobbying Push