Monday, January 16, 2012
Where there's a will, there's a way
From the Forum:
The fight is still on to get a park at the St. Saviour’s site in Maspeth,but infighting is continuing, too. The Newtown Historical Society is leading the drive to acquire the 1.5 acres at the previous churchsite for parkland, but the group says its councilwoman is only paying lip service to the project.
Community activists including the Queens Civic Congress pushed hard during the last two months of the year to have local politicians reaffirm their support after $4 million from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth) and Borough President Helen Marshall was reallocated to pursue a smaller site.
“We were kind of in damage control mode after that decision to move the money,” Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newtown Historical Society said. “What I wanted to get across to parks is that this is still a priority, so I asked the electeds to write letters.”
One politician they could not get to sign onto their push for the city to use eminent domain to forcibly buy the St. Saviour’s site was Crowley.
“My office has worked hard to pursue a park at St. Saviour’s and will continue to support any effort to make that area a green space. However, it is very difficult to acquire property when the owner is not willing to sell. The possibility of acquiring the Martin Luther site, which has a willing seller, is real and it should be pursued,” she said.
[Spokesperson Eric] Yun said Crowley’s work is behind the scenes and because her office is in frequent contact with the Parks Department, she decided not to sign onto Wilkinson’s letter and is in the process of drafting her own.
He would not give more information on the communications with the Parks Department, the contents of the letter, how it differed from Wilkinson’s or when the councilwoman would send it.
From the Queens Chronicle:
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is asking the city’s Parks Department to consider using eminent domain to acquire some or all of the 1.5-acre property that once was the home of St. Saviour’s Church in Maspeth.
In a letter to Assistant Commissioner Joshua Laird dated Nov. 19, Addabbo said the move could be justified under the historic understanding of a public benefit to create a park at 57th Road and 59th Street.
He also said such a move could free up additional funding for the project, and reduce or eliminate the gap between the $5 million that the city and state have previously pledged to buy the property, and the reported $7 million that the owners, Maspeth Development Corp., has sought.
Addabbo is urging [Parks] to pursue both properties.
“My constituents also expressed to me that a 1/3-acre parcel (the Martin Luther property) should not be considered a ‘replacement’ for a 1.5-acre project which has been worked on for more than five years by elected officials and members of the community,” he wrote.