Controversial Brooklyn Triangle Project Halted

On December 22nd, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Emily Goodman ordered a temporary restraining order on the development of the 31-acre Brooklyn Triangle site. The plan was set to allow for 1,851 units of housing, 800 of which were to be set aside for low to moderate income families. However, the project has remained controversial since its outset with community groups claiming that the rezoning had led to the discrimination and exclusion of minority groups. As with many of the current rezonings taking place all over our city, much of the decision-making has been kept secretive and remains in the hands of wealthy and well-connected corporations. It is a big step that the courts are finally starting to recognize the injustices that have happened and force the development corporations to be more responsible.

Read the NYTimes Article here:

Bloomberg Threatens Attorney General Cuomo over his efforts to subpoena records from the NYCEDC on WIllet's Point Plan

Here is the official news release from Willets Point United Inc.:

“Willets Point United Inc. commends NYS Attorney General Cuomo’s decision to investigate NYCEDC’s financing of unlawful lobbying done by Claire Shulman’s local development corporation, to enable the proposed Willets Point redevelopment. Willets Point United Inc. had requested such an investigation on June 30, 2009. Since that date, Shulman’s LDC has not only continued its unlawful operations with impunity, but has been awarded an additional state grant in excess of $1.5 million.

Today’s New York Times report – about how the City’s chief lawyer has stonewalled Cuomo’s investigation by attempting to withhold documents, and how the Bloomberg administration attempted to blackmail Cuomo to influence his investigation, by threatening Cuomo’s candidacy for governor – is a wake-up call for all New Yorkers concerning the illegal tactics that have been used by the Mayor and NYCEDC in their attempt to
acquire Willets Point land. If the Mayor’s administration has resorted to using such tactics against AG Cuomo, there should be no doubt that it has used similarly despicable tactics against the people of Willets
Point throughout the attempt to acquire their property.

Mayor Bloomberg took an oath to uphold the rule of law. But not only has Bloomberg looked the other way concerning the unlawful lobbying activities of local development corporations – even telling the TimesLedger newspapers "These groups are designed to lobby. I don’t know if they technically broke the law” (Duke, Nathan and Gustafson, Anna. 2009. Mayor doubts Shulman lobby broke law. TimesLedger, August 27.) – now, as reported by the New York Times, his administration has attempted to impede an investigation by the NYS Attorney General concerning those same unlawful acts. All New Yorkers must hold Mayor Bloomberg accountable for his failure to uphold the rule of law, and to impede an investigation by AG Cuomo. These may be impeachable offenses.

The unlawful use of City funds for lobbying by Shulman’s LDC, and the City’s attempt to stonewall Cuomo’s investigation of it, are part of a pattern of disturbing behavior that has corrupted key aspects of the proposed Willets Point redevelopment, and which now includes NYCEDC’s refusal to publicly disclose the details of its plan to install new Van Wyck access ramps as part of the project. Engineers have already determined that the ramps and development will cause severe adverse traffic impacts that threaten the quality of life of surrounding communities, and NYCEDC is keeping secret its records relating to the roadway modifications and traffic analyses. Just as AG Cuomo has insisted that there be no secrets concerning the transfers of funds by NYCEDC to facilitate unlawful lobbying, so too should there be no secrets concerning NYCEDC’s disruptive plans for Queens roadways.

Willets Point United Inc. considers the investigation by AG Cuomo to be the breath of fresh air that may finally begin to impose law and order on a corrupt City-driven process that will otherwise continue to violate the rights of Willets Point property owners. Willets Point United Inc. is hopeful that the proposed Willets Point redevelopment now will be seen to be the fraud that it truly is; and that AG Cuomo’s investigation will inspire both reform of New York City’s “shadow government” which includes NYCEDC and other local development corporations, as well as the resignations of NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky, Deputy Mayor (and former NYCEDC President) Robert Leiber, and all others who have had oversight authority concerning the corrupt Willets Point project.“

City Council Decision May Create a More Responsible Blueprint for Future Development

For the first time in the history of the Bloomberg Administration, the New York City Council has voted down a proposal for a development sponsored by the Mayor’s administration. The City Council voted to disapprove Related’s plan for the Armory in the Bronx with a 45 to 1 abstention, a decision which could shape the way development in NYC is handled in the future.

Bloomberg has been quoted as saying this decision is “disappointing and irrational.” Stating that “Today’s vote against the Armory means a loss of opportunity to bring thousands of jobs and more than $300 million in private investment to the Bronx.”
Contrary to Bloomberg’s statements, the mayor had pulled any plans for living wage out of the Bronx project and also neglected to offer any plans for community space, recreational facilities, or union neutrality.
Although this is a major step for our city, the fight is not over. We need to make sure the mayor does not veto the City Council’s decision and demand responsible development for the Armory and throughout the rest of our city.