Thursday, July 20, 2017

Queens City Council Candidate Moya Calls For Seizing Parkland In FMCP - Doesn't Know Why

City Council candidate Francisco Moya is calling for the seizing parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona he says to create affordable housing and community jobs at Willets Point but is unable to say what the connection is between the park and his plan. In June New York’s highest court rejected a proposal to build a mega-mall on the same site in Flushing Meadows Park. The court ruled that State Alienation approval was necessary in order to commercially build on the public parkland, something Moya promises to help achieve. Moya is holding a press conference today.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


By Geoffrey Croft

A candidate running for a City Council seat is calling on the Mayor to support his plan to size 30 acres of Flushing Meadows - Corona Park, public land the State’s highest court just ruled in favor of protecting.   

New York State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D - Corona) running for Julissa Ferreras’s City Council seat is pushing to alienate the parkland and says he will fight hard to do it if elected.

 “Moya has pledged to work with colleagues in the legislature to secure the required parkland alienation provisions if his proposal moves forward,” a campaign press release stated.

In June the State’s highest court rejected the $1 billion Bloomberg-era giveaway of 47.5 acres of public parkland in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park - to one of the country’s most politically connected developers, along with NY Mets owners -  to build the city’s largest mall.

Assemblyman Moya says alienating the park is part of his plan to create “Historic Levels of Affordable Housing and Community Jobs at Willets Point.”

However when asked how the parkland and his affordable housing plan for Willets Point were related the campaign was unable to provide any details.

The Moya campaign was asked what the plan was for the parkland if they were successful in securing  “the required parkland alienation provisions.”

The press release or the campaign offered no information or details on how the parkland is related to Willets Point or to his affordable housing proposal which is obviously the key to the proposal.    

“Moya’s proposal comes shortly after a decision last month by the New York State Court of Appeals striking down the Willets West phase of the proposed redevelopment, “ the press release stated.

"The plan, which would have brought a shopping center and movie theater to the 30-acre site immediately west of Citi Field, was intended to be the first phase in the two-part redevelopment of the Willets Point Site. However, the Court of Appeals struck the plan down on the grounds that the land, which is technically parkland pertaining to the adjacent Flushing-Meadows Park, would first require state lawmakers' approval. Moya has pledged to work with colleagues in the legislature to secure the required parkland alienation provisions if his proposal moves forward,” the release read.

The statement contained several bits of misleading information.

The parkland was not part of the 2008 Willets Point development plan and was not intended to be the first phase in the two-part redevelopment of the Willets Point Site.   The Queens Development Group - a joint venture between The Related Companies and Sterling Equities had desperately tried to link the two projects. 

The parkland is not “technically parkland” it is parkland and it is not “adjacent Flushing-Meadows Park,” it is in Flushing-Meadows Park.    

Queens City Council candidate Francisco Moya wants to help seize parkland in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park but is unable to say what for.

The Moya campaign also states his proposal was developed with community groups and stakeholders. 

“Assemblyman Moya ​has met with local residents and community groups to develop this proposal for the future of Willets Point,” the campaign said in a statement last week to A Walk In the Park. “

“These are the stakeholders that will be most affected by any development at the site, and addressing their needs for open space, truly affordable housing and employment opportunities are the Assemblyman’s top priority,” a campaign spokesperson wrote.   

The campaign was unable to provide details when asked what community groups and stakeholders were involved in helping to develop this proposal but pointed to a town hall meeting ten years ago in Jackson Heights by the Pratt Center for Community Development.  The 2007 meeting it should be noted did not mention taking public parkland. 

Which community groups and stakeholders are supporting this plan may at least partially be answered today when the Moya campaign holds a rally at 2:30pm.

According to the release today’s press conference participants include Make The Road, a city-funded non-profit with close ties to this administration including Jullissa Ferreras and Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance,  Queens Fairness Coalition, groups that supportive of the initial plan.

Make The Road supported taking the parkland and helped the local council member. After Julissa Ferreras successfully orchrestated  the deal culminating in the City Council vote in Ocotober 2013 she publicly thanked the groups that helped make it possible - Make The Road,  The Queens Fairness Coalition, and New Yorkers For Parks.

Moya has the support of the Queens County Democrats. His campaign was asked it they were supporting the development of Flushing Meadows Park to their knowledge.  The campaign declined to answer.

The campaign was also asked if anyone associated with his campaign has met with the former proposed developer, Related Companies, or Sterling Equities or with REBNY and any unions regarding this proposal?

The campaign said no it hadn't.

Not surprising plaintiffs were not happy.

“It’s very disappointing to see candidate Moya willing to squander the community’s hard-won court victory, which protects Flushing Meadows Corona Park land,” plaintiff Irene Prestigiacomo said in a statement.
"Moya’s willets Point plan includes his support for alienating the parkland which the recent court victory protects.  Moya needs a reality check, to understand that the community opposes developing parkland and just concluded a long court case to preserve the same land that Moya is eager to give to developers. Moya's willingness to sacrifice public parkland shows his apparent support of and allegiance to developers and the elitist owners of the Mets, above the constituents he wants to vote for him! He wants the community’s vote while unashamedly letting us know he has no respect for the hard-won court victory,” she said.

“The Queens Civic Congress opposes any more alienation of this much needed park land,  said  its president Kevin J. Forrestal. "Park land is essential part of the infrastructure supporting it’s surrounding communities. Keep park land as parks,” he stated. 

 “Another Clown has joined the circus,”  opined plaintiff Alfredo Centola.  

“When will these leeches learn that the public is their boss and the public has spoken repeatedly.”

Note: The author was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - Juen 6, 2017 -  By Geoffrey Croft

NY 1 - June 6, 2017 - By Gene Apodaca 

CBS - June 7, 2017 - By Carolyn Gusoff

New York Times - June 6, 2017 - By Sarah Maslin Nir 

New York Daily News - June 6, 2017-  By Glenn Blain - June 6, 2017 -  By Suzanne Monteverdi  

New York Law Journal - June 6, 2017 - By Mark Hamblett  

A Walk In The Park - October 10, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

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