Monday, January 29, 2007

What's going on at the NY Times?

From a concerned Flushing resident:

"At the beginning of January, I noticed construction equipment being moved onto the New York Times printing plant property in the College Point Corporate Park. I called up City Councilman Tony Avella's office and was told that the councilman was unaware of any new construction and would look into it.

I then began an online search and although it was difficult to find out what was about to happen, I discovered that the Times was closing its New Jersey printing facility and is bringing all of its operations to Queens.

NYT picks Goss for College Point expansion

N.Y. Times to reduce page size, close plant and cut 1,050 jobs

Cutbacks At The New York Times: Shrinking Pages And Slashing Jobs

I believe that 800 jobs are being shifted to the College Point facility. While at the outset this may appear to be a benefit to the New York City economy, the impacts on environment and quality of life would be an affront to the people of north Queens who are already frustrated by the current overdevelopment and traffic in the area, especially on the Whitestone Expressway. With this new expansion, there will be many more delivery, supply, and service vehicles added to the mix. I placed additional calls to Councilman Avella's office and posted a video on YouTube so that they could see the construction activity which now includes piles being driven in starting at 7 a.m.!

When I did not receive any further communication from Councilman Avella's office, I then called Community Board #7 on January 19th to see what they knew of this addition to the College Point Corporate Park. Apparently I took the office by surprise. I found that the community board has an agreement with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the agency that oversees the corporate park, that no new construction would be allowed without a review by the board, and clearly this had not occurred. The board sent a fax on the 19th to stop the construction until a meeting takes place. As of this writing, no meeting has been planned and the construction proceeds at a fever's pitch.

Where is the oversight? I requested to see copies of environmental reviews and traffic studies but no information has been put forth. The property sits on top of and adjacent to federally protected wetlands.

Also, why was there no public hearing or announcement? A few years ago, the Times added 4 external electrical generators for power generation during brownouts and blackouts and they placed a small ad in a local paper inviting the public in for comment. My next door neighbor and I attended, along with a representative from Councilman Avella's office. The turnout was low.

This expansion is much larger and I am disturbed by the way both the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York Times have gone behind the backs of the community. I also contacted State Senator Frank Padavan's office and they also were surprised by the news I related to them. It was only two years ago that this community fought off another big project proposed by the EDC that would have increased traffic and pollution in this section of Queens. It is my opinion that this is an affront that needs to be addressed immediately before construction is completed.

I have been informed that the NY Times bought the property from New York City and can do anything they want on it. This is a dangerous precedent and I can see the EDC allowing other large corporate entities to expand or create facilities without public oversight or review in other locations throughout the city.

This is an issue that must be addressed now or the needs of the citizens of this city will take a backseat to greedy corporate needs. For example, why hasn't anyone noticed that the Mets' new corporate stadium will seat 12,000 fewer fans than the stadium it is replacing? Shea Stadium may be old but its history and tradition will soon be a fond memory.

I think that the real issue here is who owns New York City? Where are the elected officials who took an oath to protect and defend the communities that they represent? I feel that I no longer have a voice in issues involving health and quality of life.

Queens was, as I recall, the bedroom borough where people who worked in Manhattan could retire to their peaceful homes and communities. Commercial and residential construction is proceeding with little or no master plan and it will be up to future generations to try and figure it all out. What a shame."


Anonymous said...

I really find all of this secrecy very disturbing and must ask a question. Was CB#7 really kept in the dark about this or did some "select" members know about these plans beforehand and kept it from the rest of the board?

Anonymous said...

This constitutes blatant lawlessness! If NYC is free to break its own laws, then we should all have license to do the same! Somebody's lying about this situation. It's very easy to smell a dead fish here!

Anonymous said...

While I do agree that the community needs to be informed and involved when it comes to development of commercial properties, the expansion of the NYTimes facility - in an industrial zone, not residential - is a reverse of years of jobs leaving NYC and especially Queens.
This is good news after years of bad. NYC lost thousands of jobs when the cruise lines went to Bayonne. To add up to 800 jobs is great. Plus the business' surrounding the Times plant like the mall across the way will be bouyed by the influx of more people.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be the first time that CB#7 kept "certain things" from the public! I'll bet that John liu is invollved in this. He's stuck his nose in College Point before, even though it's not his district. I think that there is a little political conflict going on here!

Anonymous said...

To "John",
Whose side are you on? Are you John Liu? There are so many things that are blatantly wrong with this project that it is hard to believe that you can accept and defend this blatant affront to the communities where this is taking place.

The exits for the College Point Corporate Park, Linden Place and 20th Ave., are already woefully inadequate. This increase in traffic will only serve to exacerbate this condition.

I was informed that the retail complex on 20th Ave already has seen a decrease in people shopping at their stores because customers are fed up with existing traffic conditions. Do you see this news as good news for them? Let's face it, who is really benefiting here?

I am well aware that the property is zoned for commercial use but it is surrounded by residential communities and a project of this nature should have been made public before construction started. Who is going to monitor the impact of the additional traffic and its impact on the health and environment of these communities and ther people who live in them?

Before you claim that this is good for the city, I think that you should consider the needs of the entire community and not just a corporate entity that appears to have gone behind peoples' back. When the Times purchased the property, did they indicate that they would have such a large expansion? I think not!

Anonymous said...

Is that John of "Liu" fame that just responded? Nah! Can't be! This "industrial" site happens to be adjacent to wetlands protected under Federal law, as you were informed! You know about the toxic waste products that are produced by printing plants and where the underground streams run! Stop conning the public with that tired old "bringing back jobs to NYC" rap! The city let them all leave through the lack of support they should have been given. We all can see the bigger picture. For instance, there used to be a Daily News printing plant (remember that) near Hunters Point/LIC but the Queens West, Silvercup etc. luxury housing projects put an end to that. Why not re-use the East River waterfront? Because that real estate is too valuable for industry (with its breathtaking waterviews) and Rockrose Dev. needs it to build on. So College Point is viewed as a perfect dumping ground by people like you! Come up with a better line of tripe-talk. Your argument is thin sonny boy! Everybody can see right through it!

Anonymous said...

Hey, all you folks at CB#7....what have YOU got to say for yourselves on this matter? You don't have to reveal who you are, we'll know you by the tone of your comments.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! I do not see CB#7 as the problem here. John Liu and Tony Avella should speak out on behalf of their communities! Oh wait, they can't if they want the NY Times to endorse them for future political positions. After all, Joh Liu already has over $1 million to spend. I just wonder where all that money came from. Can anyone research this and see if any NY Times exec felt generous towards Mr. Liu? I'm not accusing. I'm just saying...

Anonymous said...

College Point is is not to be regarded as the terminus of the borough's alimentary canal! People live here! And it looks like we're all being sold out in some secret back room deal! Somebody in government had to know what was going down! Maybe by FOILING some documents, we'll be able to find out who the liars are!

Anonymous said...

I think that the Feds should get invollved PDQ! The odors of mendacity and corruption are very ripe around here! Let's see if the FBI can seize some records with the same zeal they displayed in the Mc Laughlin case!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't former Councilwoman Julia Harrison set up by an Asian New York Times reporter some years back, who alleged that the Coucilmember had made some insensitive comments toward Asians?

Anonymous said...

Dumping on Harrison set the stage for John Liu to gain his office! Were the Julia- hating Staviskys behind it all? Toby lost a potential city council seat to Julia in the 1980s. H-m-m-m! Asians are also big readers of the Times, both here and overseas! Well, I'm glad to see the Times go tabloid. They've turned into a rag anyway. I'd rather follow Newsday and the Wall St. Journal!

Anonymous said...

SillyGoose! If a N.Y.Times exec had, allegedly, been "generous" to Mr. Liu, do you think there would be any evidence to uncover? Wouldn't you keep your's in an offshore account somewhere? His father was in the banking business, that is, until he got convicted.... wasn't it for fraud? Some family! And he got elected to the City Council! God (or somebody else down there) has certainly got a sense of humor!

Anonymous said...

Taiwan R.O.C. has produced some fine specimens....Tommy Huang....Joseph Liu (John's dad). I think I'd prefer to deal with some honest Communist Party crooks from the Mainland instead!

Anonymous said...

I am so mad over the NY Times. What do you think is going to happen? A stiff fine and an apology. Who gets the fine money? The city of course! I would like to make 2 suggestions. Any money goes to a fund that will study the health and other environmental impacts to the community. Second, I think that Bloomberg and Doctoroff must be held accountable and removed from their jobs. They're the real criminals here!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That is a good point. I believe that this whole fiasco should be investigated by the appropriate federal and/or state government agencies. If improper procedures were used, the city officials who allowed this to happen should be held accountable, and that includes those at the highest levels. The next obvious question...who is going to take the first step?

Anonymous said...

Anyone may discreetly call an FBI agent regarding any matter. They do return calls.

Anonymous said...

Times to Reduce Page Size And Close a Plant in 2008


Published: July 18, 2006

The New York Times is planning to reduce the size of the newspaper, making it narrower by one and a half inches, and to close its printing operation in Edison, N.J., company officials said yesterday.

The changes, to go into effect in April 2008, will be accompanied by a phased-in redesign of the paper and will mean the loss of 250 production-related jobs.

Several other American broadsheets reduced their size a few years ago, and many are planning further shrinkage to cut costs as the price of newsprint climbs and newspapers lose readers and advertisers to the Internet.

The Times, which made the announcement last night on the eve of its quarterly earnings report, said it would sublet its plant in Edison and consolidate its regional printing facilities at its newer plant in College Point, in Queens.

That consolidation will mean the loss of about a third of the total production work force of 800.

The Edison plant, which opened in 1992, is to keep printing papers until the spring of 2008, by which time one new press will have been added at College Point. That plant opened in 1997.

The company said the changes would save about $42 million a year -- $30 million by consolidating printing at College Point and $12 million by reducing the size of the paper. Leaving the Edison plant means the company can avoid about $50 million in capital improvements there, although it will spend about $150 million to combine the facilities in College Point and buy a new press.

The reduction in the size of The Times will mean a loss of 5 percent of the space the paper devotes to news. If the paper only reduced the size of its pages, it would lose 11 percent of that space, but Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor, said such a loss would be too drastic, so the paper will add pages to make up for some of the loss.

"That's a number that I think we can live with quite comfortably," Mr. Keller said of the 5 percent reduction, adding that the smaller news space would require tighter editing and putting some news in digest form.

Several broadsheets -- including USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post -- have already reduced their size and others, like The Wall Street Journal, are planning to.

"It's painful to watch an industry retrench," Mr. Keller said. "But this is a much less painful way to go about assuring our economic survival than cutting staff or closing foreign bureaus or retrenching our investigative reporting or diluting the Washington bureau."

Anonymous said...

To those who expect all 800 or so new workers to all come and go at the same time, you are wrong. There are staggered shifts all day and night.
Look around and I bet you have neighbors who are unemployed and living on the edge.

Anonymous said...

Look like John (Liu?) speaks again! Splits shifts or no, the Whitestone Expressway will still have to handle the additional delivery trucks, service trucks, etc. The jobs belong to people who were working at the New Jersey plant. I do not believe new jobs for the community are being created. The biggest problem with this project is its secrecy. What do you know that we don't?

Anonymous said...

Seems like a simple expansion of an existing facility in a primarily industrial/commercial area.

Is any development in the borough permitted, or should we just leave everything as is forever.

Anonymous said...

I hardly call this a simple expansion. Bringing 800 jobs and a lot of additional traffic in a community that is already overwhelmed is unfair. The College Point Corporate Park is surrounded by apartment houses and other residential property. Respect for the neighbors should have been considered. I don't think the issue is whether development should be permnitted. The issue is appropriate planning and public review. Why was everyone kept in the dark about this expansion if it is such a wonderful thing for the area? The secrecy is indicative of backroom deals and the selling out of a community. Is this Bloomberg's revenge on the North Queens district because we protested and defeated a pet project for the former Flushing Airport site?

Anonymous said...

I don't see that site as surrounded by residential property. There are certainly residences across the Whitestone, but the area surrounding the NYT facility is completely commercial.

The original poster said:

"I have been informed that the NY Times bought the property from New York City and can do anything they want on it."

If what they're building is properly zoned, within the law, and doesn't require review, why should they be required to solicit community input?

Queens Crapper said...

The sale of the property from the city to the Times should have had public input, especially considering that it's in land covered by the Waterfront Revitalization Program.

Anonymous said...

"The sale of the property from the city to the Times should have had public input"

Maybe, but not sure that would have any effect on the current situation.

I assume the waterfront in this case is the West airport site?

Anonymous said...

First of all, some residences across the Whitestone equals thousands of apartments in the area adjacent to the corporate park. The additional traffic on the expressway adds congestion and pollution to the residents of the area. Why can't there be a monitoring program set up? Oops, I guess our elected officials are napping.

Also, the residents of College Point have limited access to their community and this further serves to choke them off. You fail to consider the infrastructure of the north Queens area. Do you think it was a fluke that hundreds of people turned out at several demonstrations to stop another project from clogging 20th Avenue and Linden Place.

The question has been raised if appropriate zoning laws have been followed. Isn't that the point of all these comments? The citizens of Queens have a right to ask questions, especially in light of the secrecy of this expansion.

Finally, I was told that the community board has the right to review any new construction in the College Point Corporate Park. The fact that they were not even notified speaks volumes for the potential violation of zoning, environmental, and other rules and regulations.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, Johnny- On -The- Spot, John Liu ??? or whoever you are, stop trying to railroad the community with half baked facts, obviously cooked up by your PR employee! But we're glad you're posting on Queens Crap. It acknowledges the fact that we reach a lot of smart people who are able to sort through your lies. They're not very well constructed, by the way. You should fire your PR guy and hire a real proffessional to do your scuttle work!

Anonymous said...

This expansion (without proper public notice or input) violates City, State and Federal law. Anyone in favor of this is, in a way, an accomplice after the fact!

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should hire the "Parkside Group" for PR consultation! Oh, I'm sorry! Did I hit a nerve?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think that John Liu has cut a deal (behind everyones' backs as usual) with Dan Doctoroff ! who's this century's reincarnation of Robert Moses! This a snake-eyed attempt for Liu to screw the community (he insists he wants to serve) and Tony Avella (who's district it is) in the process! Tony is making too many waves and the "city real estate club" is out to stop him!

Anonymous said...

I think that one important point being overlooked is that the former Flushing Airport site still has developable property and the city is trying to sell that off as well. What next?