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Protesters Disrupt Sunnyside Yard Public Meeting in LIC, Chaotic Scenes

(Queens Post)

Sept. 17, 2019. By Shane O’Brien

Dozens of protesters disrupted the city’s Sunnyside Yard public meeting Monday night that took place at Aviation High School in Long Island City.

The meeting, organized by the Economic Development Corp., descended into chaos when about 80 protesters from a number of different organizations staged an alternative public meeting in the cafeteria of the high school.

Members of Stop Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) Bullies, Queens Neighborhood United, Queens anti-gentrification Project and Centro Corona all took part in the protest.

The protest took place while the EDC tried to conduct the meeting that essentially consisted of two segments– an exhibition of design concepts in the school’s cafeteria and an hour-long Q and A in the teacher’s lounge.

The raucous protesters voiced their discontent by holding a community teach-in in the cafeteria while the Q and A session was taking place. The protest lasted for roughly an hour.

Several speakers climbed onto the cafeteria tables and addressed the watching crowd. One speaker claimed that the EDC community meetings “are fake,” while a number of speakers said that Sunnyside Yard would become just another Hudson Yards.

The group argued that the EDC overestimated the potential revenue of the Hudson Yards site in West Manhattan, leaving the city in huge debt as a result.

Tom Angotti and James DeFilippis, both professors in urban planning, lectured the crowd on the potential adverse effects of the Sunnyside Yard project.

“When the EDC tell us that Sunnyside Yard is planned for 100 years, I have to laugh because nothing in New York City is planned beyond two years. It’s a lie,” Angotti said.

Tom Angotti addresses the crowd (Queens Post)

The protest group loudly chanted a number of phrases and made it almost impossible for EDC employees to put a stop to the protest. The group alleged that the EDC is in the pocket of developers and that it panders to the wealthy in New York.

The group regularly shouted, “Don’t build a city for the rich, improve the city that exists.”

Adam Grossman Meagher, Director of Sunnyside Yard, attempted to quash the protest and stood on a table himself as he tried to restore calm, but he was drowned out by loud chants of “let them speak” and he gave up and retreated to the Q and A meeting in the teacher’s lounge.

The protest group eventually followed him to the teacher’s lounge and attempted to gain entry to the Q and A. However, the door was locked which prompted incessant chants of “let us in.”

Ray Rogers, founder of the Campaign to Stop REBNY Bullies said that the EDC “is a cesspool of corruption.

“They follow the policies that adhere to the Real Estate Board of New York,” Rogers said. “It causes so much displacement and shutting down of small businesses throughout the city.”

Rogers said that the EDC had been offering the community lip service about the Sunnyside Yard master plan and that Monday’s protest was about putting pressure on them to answer questions and make real change.

He also criticized the EDC for holding Monday night’s Q and A in a small and crowded room which made it difficult for large numbers of people to attend. The meeting also started at 5 p.m.

Grossman Meagher rejected the premise of the group’s protests and said that the EDC always tried to hire developers who could get the city the best deal. He also rejected any comparisons between the development at Hudson Yards and Sunnyside Yard.

“This is very different to Hudson Yards. This is western Queens and western Queens is not like the west side of Manhattan. It has different needs, it has different people, it has a different history and a different scale,” Grossman Meagher said.

“Hudson Yards happened at a different moment in time with a different set of concerns that were driving us. Hudson Yards happened during an Olympic bid and when millions of square feet of office space were lost downtown. It was a very different set of objectives.”

Grossman Meagher said that the city would be holding a fourth public meeting on the Sunnyside Yard master plan before the end of the year.

Rogers said that many of Monday night’s protesters would be looking to attend.

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21 Comments

Marco Polo

Protest all you want. This is a done deal whether you like it or not. And the Democrat politicians you always reelect cycle after cycle are all in on it. See ya.

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Mac

Marco- Just like the Republican politicians voted in cycle after cycle in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma etc. with policies that keep their strongholds last and worst in healthcare, general health, education, wages, crime and incarceration.?

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Peter

Real Estate Board are bullies, plain and simple. Responses to the story are plainly plants…it is ridiculous that planning and building high rises for “high incomes” will automatically produce those populations. Displaced middle class families and working people will be forced to the streets, to outside the city, and the charitable impulses of those fictional high income folks, to pay taxes sufficient to support the city, it’s infrastructure, the cost of new schools, police, fire protection, personnel, laughable. Liars and thieves.
Community counts. Ours is under attack. Attack the liars.

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Laura Boutwell

The protestors were ill-informed about the NYCED process and blew their opportunity to have any meaningful input. They were uncooperative and if they’d bothered to read the NYCED’s master planning documents or talked to any of the design and building professionals there, would’ve heard about how economic justice and affordable housing are the central themes to the development. Moreover, they seem to think that the city can just magically ~poof~ and suddenly build bajillion dollar housing without any private money. WE DON”T HAVE THE MONEY TO MAINTAIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE WE HAVE.

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MRLIC

If you don’t have the money then do not build it. We do not need aany more people and high rises in this area. These people are fighting for their homes and keep their way of life along with not losing the small businesses they have left. The protesters are RIGHT 100 %

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It's a shame you voted for someone that doesn't build affordable housing

I agree, developers like the president you voted for are ruining this area. You have no integrity.

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Paty

These people are ridiculous. NYC has to change to accommodate the constant influx of people. We need this for transportation, greenspace and more housing otherwise the people moving here will just displace the current residents rather than moving into new development. Maybe these people should concentrate on stopping developers from taking over already great neighborshoods rather than trying to squash a great plan is isn’t much needed for the city.

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Anonymous

The argument that more housing decreases housing costs is not correct. Huge developments have been happening across the country, always with the promise that increased housing stock will bring down housing prices. It never happens. Without a substantial commitment to affordable housing, new developments like the one being proposed here drive real estate speculation, leading to increased rents and, eventually, displacement of residents. It’s the same lie being told over and over and over again. We’re sick of it. We want a real community process where we can decide more than just how high the luxury apartments will be.

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Frank

Housing is built to answer the demands of the market, not “affordability”. Why should a private developer not maximize the potential of a development? Just so you can stay in LIC? What did you deserve to get that special privilege, at a cost to others? Buy or bye.

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Anon

Why would they currently maximize the potential of a development when the housing market is tanking and 60% of luxury developments in the city are empty. Not too bright. Where is the demand people speak of? It’s currently in affordable housing. People with attitudes like yours should get out of LIC.

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Frank

Uh…are you sure about your numbers? The rentals in LIC are running well above 90% occupancy. In any case, demand for affordable housing is always high. Who doesn’t want others to pay to discount their rent?

Anon

The numbers came straight from a NY Times article. If I recall correctly, LIC was included as well. Maybe rentals are at that occupancy, but sales are definitely down.

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Anon

How is it a great plan? Is there any green space? Are the trains not over capacity? Does the area need more luxury development? (I don’t buy the promise of ANY “affordable” units.)

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Disrespect is rampant!

Is this the reason why so many children behave like animals in school??? Knock down drag out fights because they are dissatisfied with life??? Jeeez! Be ladies and gentlemen!!!

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The Loudest aren't always Right

Mob rule, just what we have always wanted. We have many ways to have our voice heard. This constant shouting down of those we disagree with does nothing but create more division, distrust and dishonesty.

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Anonymous

The event was taken over because it is the only way any of us would be heard. EDC held a Q&A at the first public meeting in march, and were entirely unable to answer the questions they were posed. They haven’t had a large scale Q&A since. The protestors there last night have been to other EDC public meetings and have tried to have their concerns heard. They’ve been ignored. Protests are confrontational out of necessity. If people won’t be heard through the means provided, others need to be created.

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jb

These protests are clearly the handiwork of developers from Manhattan & Brooklyn. They want to curtail development in Queens.
They perceive Queens as competition.
These days, big money is using the strategy of provoking demonstrations and protests for their own ends.
We saw these types demonstrations when the city council was considering banning furs – demonstrators were ported in to claim a ban would be racist. We also see “demonstrators for hire” in the “close rikers” movement.
Curtailing Queens development would be devastating for the borough. There will always be plenty of low-income housing here – and the high income areas will reduce crime, and support and strengthen schools and colleges for low income residents, and produce jobs.

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