After eight years, two lawsuits, countless delays, & three city reversals, the plan for a mall at Willets Point has finally been defeated. And much like the Mets these days, it lost badly.
In a 5-1 decision, the Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling that held the owners of the Mets could not build a mall on city-owned parkland. The land in question, the former site of Shea Stadium, which was demolished in 2008, is currently the Mets parking lot. A 1961 law allowed that parkland to be used for stadium purposes, a cut-out that a mall would not have satisfied, the court found.
“There is no dispute that the Willets West development is proposed to be constructed entirely on city parkland,” the judges wrote, continuing that the “public trust doctrine,” which dictates the uses for public lands “is ancient and firmly established in our precedent.” Nowhere in the Mets owners arguments, was a mall found to be in line with the public trust doctrine, the court found.
The Mets owners were arguing that by using the mall to fund the remediation of Willets Point (a parcel of land on the other side of their current stadium), and eventually the construction of both affordable housing and a school, the mall was fulfilling the public trust doctrine. The court found that too to be unconvincing, and also didn’t believe the Mets owners were actually going to build the housing or schools.
But wait...these tweeders may not yet be finished! From NY1:
Although the ruling does block the developer from moving forward, the legislature can still step in and intervene.
The legislature would have to vote to use the land for Willets West for non-park purposes. It would also have to find a replacement property to designate as parkland.