From the Forum West:
During his most recent budget announcement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city must take severe measures, including drastically cutting vital services, in order to balance the city’s finances. According to the group Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse, the $400 million set aside by the city to acquire private property should be put towards better use to soften the blow of impending budget cuts.
A partial list of proposed cuts includes $48.9 million from police, $20.1 million from libraries, $17 million from the fire department, $5.3 million from senior centers, $91.2 million from education, $3.3 million from ambulance services, $5.6 million from parks and $3.4 million from jails, according to the group’s first press release, issued last Thursday.
“The taxpayer money set aside for property acquisition at Willets Point could easily be redirected towards these agencies to prevent these cuts,” said Jerry Antonacci, president of the coalition of business and land owners. “There would also be enough left over to install a sanitary sewer system to fix the roads at the Iron Triangle and allow the property owners to stay, expand their businesses and let the area redevelop naturally.”
“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?” asked Jake Bono, owner of Bono Sawdust Supply Co. and a group spokesman. “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.”
From the Queens Chronicle:
Willets Point United members also believe the impetus to get rid of the unsightly small shacks and auto parts shops is coming from the Mets, whose new stadium, Citi Field, is located across the street from them on 126th Street. “The Mets shouldn’t dictate what goes on,” Bono said.
Because of the economy, he thinks the project will have to be scaled back. “Every developer is in trouble. They have all canceled projects,” he said. “Spend $100 million on infrastructure and the area would get pretty quicker and cheaper.”