Weighty Decisions

To The Editor:

For too long there has been an unwritten law that, in connection with legislation pending before the New York City Council, the councilmember whose district encompasses the area on which there may be an impact has the say on whether the legislation should be enacted or rejected. Not only does this not comport with legitimate democratic processes, it ignores the fact a single councilmember does not speak for all the residents of a particular district, and also ignores the fact there may be an impact upon an entire borough as well as the City.

A case in point is the legislation now before the Council in which Sterling Equities and Related Companies seek to amend the Willets Point plan approved by the City Council in 2008, to construct in Willets Point a parking lot, which is a cover up to allow the Mets ball club to remove its Citi Field parking lot to Willets Point and on the vacated lots, to construct a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall. To allow this deception is to sanction the taking of a huge section of Flushing Meadows Corona Park on which the current parking lot is located and to sanction a significant land use change without ULURP.

While I am uncertain as to where Queens 21st District Councilmember Julissa Ferreras stands on the issue, from what I have heard her say, I believe she supports the mall. If she does, I respectfully urge all councilmembers to make an independent judgment and not accord Ms. Ferreras any greater weight. Not only should they give great weight to the attempt to bypass a mall ULURP and land use change requirements, they should consider the effect a huge shopping mall will have on the hundreds of small merchants and existing malls throughout Queens and the City and the enormous traffic congestion it will cause on the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, Northern Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. If great weight is to be given to a particular area, the Council should take note that Ms. Ferreras’ district contains Community Board 3, which after conducting a ULURP on the amendment to allow a parking lot at Willets Point, rejected the application with a vote of 30 against, with one in favor and one abstention. That rejection made clear the Board was not going to allow a phony amendment to the 2008 plan as a cover up for a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall.

It is Community Board 3 that speaks for the community and not Councilmember Ferreras. I believe all of the above is a good reason why allowing a single councilmember to decide if a bill should or should not be enacted, has no place in our City Council.

Benjamin M. Haber,
Flushing