From the Times Ledger:
A report issued by the Urban Justice Center Tuesday accuses the city of using strong-arm negotiating tactics with property owners at Willets Point while ignoring more than 200 tenant businesses that operate in the area.
More than two dozen Willets Point workers rallied alongside members of the Urban Justice Center outside Citi Field Tuesday to allege that the city orchestrated multi-agency raids on three properties housing 11 small businesses in April as a means of pushing property owners to strike deals to sell their land.
“The timing of these mass closures with a renewed effort to acquire private land for a public redevelopment is questionable and it may also be illegal,” the report said.
The raids, which occurred March 22 and April 2, came just weeks before the city announced it would renew efforts to acquire property in the southwestern portion of Willets Point to pursue its redevelopment plans for the area.
“When the government enters into private negotiations to acquire private land for an urban renewal plan like the type that has been authorized at Willets Point, there is a danger that any unequal or improper city action will be seen as an attempt to influence or coerce private landowners to sell their land,” the report said. “The actions taken by the city in the past few months are questionable at best, illegal at worst.”
The raids were launched by a collaboration of several city agencies, including the New York Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection, and targeted 126-58 and 126-75 Willets Point Blvd. and 37-03 126th St. — all of which are in the area the city hopes to develop first.
“Those of us who have worked in government know that it’s difficult to get agencies to coordinate with one another,” said Wayne Mahlke, chief of staff for state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst). “The city launched these raids in the same week they were negotiating with these property owners. There is no way it was a coincidence.”
From the Daily News:
The city is still forming a plan to relocate the businesses, Lombino said.
"We're looking at relocating some of the businesses in clusters," said Lombino. "We've done it before."
But many owners said they are wary.
"They never tell us the truth," said Marco Neira, 51, president of the Willets Point Defense Committee, adding that it's been difficult over the 23 years he's been in business to trust promises from city officials.
"The city comes here to give us fines, never to fix our streets," he said. "We have no sewers."
"The city gave us these problems," Neira said.
You mean the city still hasn't figured out where they are going to put these businesses?