Monday, May 23, 2011

Maspeth turns out for St. Saviour's rally

Young Community Voices Heard. Jakub - 2 ½ and his sister Emilia, 4 ½, in front of the St. Saviour's Park site at 57th Road and 58th St. A rendering of proposed park hangs above them. (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

From A Walk in the Park:

More than one hundred people rallied in front of the once lush St. Saviour's historic church site in Maspeth, Queens, on Saturday, May 21, 2011, to advocate for a new park. Maspeth residents, led by the Newtown Historical Society and civic groups C.O.M.E.T. and Juniper Park Civic Association, called on the City to begin the ULURP process and acquire the land through condemnation (eminent domain) if the City and the property's owner, Maspeth Development, LLC, cannot come to terms.

The two sides are reportedly $ 2 million dollars apart according to City sources. Park supporters accused the property owner of holding the park hostage in order to get a higher price.

Elected officials including Council Members Elizabeth Crowley and Karen Koslowitz, Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi and long time park supporter State Senator Tony Avella joined local residents and community groups to push for the green space. Supporters held signs in multiple languages including Polish and Spanish.

For more than five years the community has been fighting to convert the 1.5 acre property into a public park.

$ 3.5 million dollars has been secured by Council Member Crowley and Borough President Helen Marshall, enough for the City to start the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) required to take possession of the property, according to Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newtown Historical Society, who has been leading the charge.

The City, meanwhile, is now saying it does not have enough money to begin the process.

Critics assert that the City has been dragging its feet on starting the ULURP process, which in itself could take years to complete. ULURP is required before the City may take title to the property. The community fears the developer will not wait that long and may either sell or develop the property in the meantime. This scenario is unacceptable to area residents.

"If the City and the property owner can't come to a purchase agreement, then the City needs to consider condemnation," said Wilkinson. "They need to take possession of this site by any means necessary. More open space is something the community needs, not just something we would like to have."

"We don't need more warehouses in Maspeth and we don't need a garbage dump," Wilkinson said. "What we need, and what future generations will need, is more parkland."

The property was once a verdant oasis according to residents.

"It was like an ocean breeze with all the trees," said 72-year-old Gerry Olechna who has lived in the area her entire life. "During the Winter it was a scene right out of a Currier & Ives painting. And look at what they've done."

"They made it a garbage dump," added 81-year-old Rosemarie Pittelli, who also grew up in the neighborhood, 61 of those years living across the street from the church site. "It's really sickening. It used to be so beautiful."

"We've already been at this for 5 years," said Wilkinson. "It shouldn't take 5 more years, but if it does, so be it. We won't stop advocating for this much needed green space."


Anonymous said...

Very nice - great work Crappy.

Anonymous said...

Great turnout and the details within the story are excellent.
This land must become a park now ... this summer or fall... no more delays.

Jerry Rotondi said...

A tale of 2 different sites:

Willets Point ULURP eminent domain proceedings are speedily running on the shiny express track.

The St. Saviour's Park process grinds to a sudden halt on a rusty local track.

Please explain to us all---
why is this so Mayor Bloomberg?

Is your administration merely using the current price haggling---that's going on between the owner and NYC---as an excuse to break your promise to create a park here?

Condemn the property
and let's be done with it!

The purpose of eminent domain is to take land for the public good---in exchange, of course, for a fair purchase price to the owner.

I can think of no better good that can be served the public than giving Maspeth its badly needed and long awaited park.

A legal reminder:
The ULURP process can begin without
first agreeing on a purchase price.

It's already being done on other city projects.

So why not here?

Is Maspeth being red lined out of its deserved green space?

Anonymous said...

We hear a great deal about Christina Wilkinson on this site.

-Joe said...

I never understood why the locals couldn't pool some money together and buy it from the Koreans in the first place.
The Bloomberg hates those Maspeth people and is only looking after his "friends" and special interest.
Odds are The mayor is "pulling some strings" to slow this park use process to a crawl to get the owner to sell it to special interest friends.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg hates Maspeth and will do everything possible to slow down the process. As long a he is mayor, you will never see a park there. Mayor Mike only cares about the money.

Anonymous said...

As long a he is mayor, you will never see a park there.

Impeach Bloomturd!

Anonymous said...

It funny how most of the local pols you hate so much showed up.
As long as you make fun of Bloomberg you will never get a park.

Anonymous said...

What local pols do we hate?

No one at this rally made fun of Bloomberg.

Joe said...

Yes, you have to get the Mayor out first. $2 Says the mayors people pass out some lollypops of hope to keep these people quiet wile they do a dirty backroom deal.

Thats the way Bloomberg works, he runs the city like Hitler ran his army. Its get on board his master plan or be blown out of the way. Even the chickenshit police commissioner and governor is afraid of this split tongue snake with his billions sitting in some offshore Bermuda bank account. Money buys lots of power

I hope those people in Maspeth don't forget tyrants & snakes can only be trusted to behave as tyrants & snakes. Its there nature and cant be changed.
Its is the duty of US citizens to clean house when necessary.

Anonymous said...

It's not that we hate Bloomberg. It's the other way around. He hates Maspeth because most of the people are white and middle class. He doesn't want the middle class in New York. He wants us to move out and replace us with illegal immigrants.

Anonymous said...

No one at this rally made fun of Bloomberg.

Aw shucks!

Anonymous said...

I didn't say people at the rally made fun of the mayor.
This blog often does.
As well as Crowley and Avella.
Not always a good was to get what you want.
So here comes the warehouse.

Queens Crapper said...

Are you saying that blog comments influence city policy? That's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.

georgetheatheist said...

Why the gaggle of politicians at this rally? Where were they all before the church was torn down? Only Avella was there then.

What's in it for Koslowitz, Hevesi, and Crowley?

Anonymous said...

Hevesi was there before the church was torn down. The rest were not in office at the time.