CB7 Meets For Willets Point Update

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Members of Community Board 7 met with the Queens Development Group for its quarterly meeting on the progress of the Willets Point project.

The main focus of the meeting had to do with the clean-up process for the contaminated land that makes up Willets Point. Polluted by petroleum, paint, cleaning solvents and other chemicals, the site’s toxicity has been a long-standing problem for the area over the decades.

The Community Board asked for details regarding the clean-up plan, such as whether the contaminants could affect nearby groundwater. The Queens Development Group assured them it would not. CB7 added that they want the group to have a plan in place to prevent recontamination as well.

“There isn’t a person alive or dead who knows how this contamination is running,” first vice chairperson Chuck Apelian said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest that a real diligent plan goes in place.”

When board member Kim Ohanian asked where the Dept. of Environmental Protection in this effort, it was revealed that the clean-up falls under the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dean Vanderwarker, vice president at Related Companies, said that the decontamination plan will move forward once the company has control of Willets Point.

“We’re in the middle of the notice period,” he said. “The next steps will be working with the State on an appropriate investigation plan and that will commence once we have full control of the site.”

All progress on the Willets Point development is in a holding pattern as two separate cases of litigation have been filed against the project. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and dozens of merchants still located on Willets Point have filed lawsuits to halt the construction. The project cannot continue until the cases are resolved.

Once remediation of the contaminated land begins, Queens Development Group estimated that it will take about two years to complete.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.