Feb. 6, 2020
Letter To the Editor:
We thank you for your coverage of a topic that is of momentous interest to us in your stories of January 23 and 29 “Weigh in on Schools and Community Facilities at LIC Development Meeting,” and “Residents Provide Input on Art Space and School as 28-Acre LIC Development Site is Discussed,” reported by Michael Dorgan.
While the articles were detailed and well-researched, we spotted some common misconceptions about the YourLIC planning process that we would like to clarify on behalf of our respective organizations.
The articles acknowledge that YourLIC is a developer-led effort. What they do not make clear is that in 2018, several community-based groups including the Hunters Point Civic Association and Queens Community Boards 1 and 2 requested that the city sponsor a comprehensive public planning process for the 28-acre area in and around Anable Basin, with attention to the need for resiliency and transit infrastructure, family-supporting jobs, public open space, and a school. What the community has gotten instead is privately run meetings, tightly controlled by YourLIC, that imply a development framework that has not been publicly vetted or ratified.
The Anable Basin area contains 12 privately owned parcels, whose owners are presumed to be interested in upzonings, as well as parcels owned by the City of New York: a Department of Transportation site on 44th Drive, a Department of Education-owned parking lot that fronts on the river, and a 600,000 square foot industrial building owned and currently partially occupied by employees of the Department of Education. In a map accompanying the January 23 article, three of the four publicly owned sites are labeled “EDC-TFC,” referring to the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the developer TF Cornerstone. The January 29 article refers to city-owned sites “overseen by the Economic Development Corp. and developed by TF Cornerstone.”
TF Cornerstone does not own these sites; the city may intend to convey them, but they are constrained by law from doing so before a formal ULURP process, including a City Council vote, concludes. If the city made an agreement to convey the sites to TF Cornerstone in advance of a formal disposition process, we assert that was unlawful.
We represent a coalition of organizations that believes it is in the best interest of people who live and work in Long Island City (and for New York City as a whole) for the publicly owned sites at Anable Basin to remain in public hands. The comprehensive public planning process requested by the community has yet to take place, and it is our view that when it does, most community members will oppose new private development – particularly the high-rise, mostly market rate residential towers and expensive office buildings that are likely to be built under the current scenario.
Officials may tell us that allowing dense private development is the only way to pay for amenities like parks and schools. We reject this. We are fortunate to live in a wealthy city that takes in $90 billion annually in tax revenue. Further, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has said that “public land should be for public purpose,” and we believe that the political will exists to consider creative approaches to securing city, state, and federal funds for the advancement of resiliency and deep affordability. It is absurd to say that the “price” of basic public services is development that will further displace industry, working artists, and low-income tenants.
We feel strongly that to convey the public sites on the Long Island City waterfront to TF Cornerstone or any other for-profit entity would amount to a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the public trust on the part of elected officials and community leaders. We ask that future coverage clearly defines that the outcome desired by YourLIC is not a foregone conclusion. Thank you again for your reporting.
Melissa Bieri, Long Island City Coalition
Ivan Contreras, Woodside on the Move
Manny Gomez, Sunnyside Artists
Patricia Dorfman, Small Town Confidential
Yvette Kemp, Justice for All Coalition
Brent O’Leary, Hunters Point Civic Association
Memo Salazar, Western Queens Community Land Trust
*The LICPost has written about the YourLIC project on multiple occasions including:
That article included a rendering of the 28-acre area, as provided by YourLIC shown below.