August 15, by Nathaly Pesantez
A petition denouncing city development along the Long Island City waterfront has been created, and is demanding the area be used for park space instead.
“Save the Waterfront – Oppose Cornerstone Project” is the name of the petition created by the newly-formed community group the LIC Coalition, and invokes TF Cornerstone, the name of the Manhattan-based real-estate firm recently chosen by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for its massive proposal that includes two towers totaling nearly 1,000 residential units near the Anable Basin on 44th Drive as part of a development project.
“This is a chance for Elected officials to respond favorably to the public demands for more parkland,” the petition reads. “We will never have a chance to reclaim this city owned property if it is handed over to EDC as proposed.”
The LIC Coalition, a local advocacy group, is demanding an overall stop to residential and commercial development in the sectioned off land, whether through ceasing development plans or the rezoning of the area, and is calling instead for the area to become a public park and to hold a community center focused on the environment.
The demand for a park is partially in response to fears of flooding and other environmental concerns for the area if it is developed, and is also an attempt to stop what the petition creators see as potential overcrowding of the LIC waterfront.
“We the Community are tired of the City’s promise of affordable housing at the expense of open/ public space, and in exchange for massive density that further contributes stress to the waterfront and the flood plane,” the petition reads.
Furthermore, the petition asks city officials to support Community Board 2’s request to take the abandoned site at 44-02 Vernon Blvd (nicknamed Lake Vernon, since it is filled with water) and convert into a space for community benefit. Lake Vernon is not part of the EDC development.
The petition, which has 178 signees out of 200 needed, will be presented to Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with Queens borough president Melinda Katz, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, and other political leaders.
The leaders of the LIC Coalition could not immediately be reached for comment.
In February 2016, the city put out a request for proposals for an area over 4.5 acres near 44th Drive and 5th Street, inviting developers to devise a concept for the two locations—currently a DOT site and a parking lot—that includes residential space, affordable housing, a public school, and public space.
At the end of July, the city chose a $925 million concept developed by TF Cornerstone for the waterfront area, which includes one-acre of park space for the public along with the above.
But plans for the development will not commence until the area, currently a designated manufacturing zone, goes through a lengthy public process to be rezoned. If successful, the project should be completed in 2022.