|Photo from WilletsPoint.org|
A group of auto-shop owners in Willets Point led an unsuccessful hunger strike protesting the eviction.
The strike ended on June 5, just four days after almost a dozen auto shop owners swore off food. The strike was led by the coop’s president Marco Neira. Since then, Molina and others in the area are being barraged with tickets for working on cars on the street that they cannot pay for as the city increases pressure for the mechanics to leave the area.
In March, the city gave the group about $5.8 million to relocate their operations from Willets Point to the Hunts Point Section in the Bronx.
But according to Neira, the 17-auto repair shops were supposed to have been fully constructed in Hunts Point by July 1, but so far nothing has been built. According to the city Department of Buildings, construction has not started because the Sunrise Coop has not filled out the necessary paperwork to get things moving.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at a meeting of editors for Community News Group, parent of the TimesLedger, said the Bronx could not proceed with the Hunts Point project until Queens completed the certificate of occupancy application and other requirements.
But none of this really matters – or makes any sense – for the dozens of auto shop owners who were forced to close down their businesses June 5.
The agreement specified that the EDC would pay $4.8 million and the Queens Development Group, the site developers, would provide $960,000. The Sunrise Co-op was expected to contribute $143,000 and the group would have to leave the site by June 1.
“The group got a raw deal,” Diaz said. “The city should have given them more resources—sizable subsidies.”
Now members of the Sunrise Coop will move to Hunts Point early next year, according to Neira but for the time being, the mechanics have nowhere to go nor do they have any place to store their hefty equipment.