Factual inaccuracies abound when issues become overly politicized.
Why is Tony Avella so quiet on a project he approved? Because he has QueensCrap and Paul Graziano doing his dirty work spreading lies and political propaganda about the contaminated Waterpointe site in northeast Queens.
Let’s look at the facts. In the beginning, the community was enthusiastic about this multi-million dollar development project because the original plan as put forward by the Bayrock Group, a Manhattan developer, included an environmental remediation initiative plus construction of a water front park on what was widely considered an underutilized and historically contaminated barren manufacturing wasteland.
The 18-acre plot at 151-45 Sixth Road in Whitestone served as a former industrial base, a trucking depot, as well as an asphalt plant. The land has a history of contamination and was designated a state Brown field cleanup site because of the presence of contamination, and everyone in the community wanted it cleaned up.
But before construction and environmental remediation could begin, the land needed to be rezoned. Constantinople and Vallone represented Bayrock to change the zoning of Waterpointe Landing from industrial M1-1 to R3-2 residential. The community was pleased with the rezoning, which easily passed everyone’s muster, and the project enjoyed the support of Community Board 7, and elected officials with particular support by then-Councilman Avella, now state Sen. Tony Avella.
By all accounts, Avella blessed and loved this project. But in 2008, Bayrock, like many other companies, went belly up and defaulted on their loans. Financially, the project was in the toilet and the bank took back the note and eventually sold the property to the Edgestone Group in 2012.
But Barone Management, which has been the primary tenant since 2005, remained to manage the Brownfield cleanup.
Herein is the issue: fast forward six years later before Edgestone acquired the property, and years after anyone associated with Bayrock changed the zoning, contaminated soil was dumped on Waterpointe from a former Superfund site – all while under the supervision of Barone Management and EBI Consulting, according to a lawsuit by Edgestone.
After a FOIL request, the contaminated soil was traced back to an address in Brooklyn. The Times Ledger provides the background:
“That is the same address where in 1997 a company called All Plating Corp. was abandoned and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later cleaned up leaking hazardous materials under its Superfund program, according to the EPA. A Superfund site is a hazardous waste site that poses harm to surrounding communities and is cleaned up under the EPA.
“[EPA] … found an incompatible mix of heavy metals, acids, corrosives and other hazardous materials improperly stored in leaking drums and bags,” the agency said in a 1998 news release. “Several open vats and tanks containing a variety of chemicals and heavy metals are also inside the deteriorated building where fires and vandalism have occurred. Two trailers are parked outside the building that contain corrosives and acids in pails and drums.”
So let’s get the facts straight. After the much hailed rezoning was completed in 2007, Constantinople and Vallone no longer represented Bayrock’s interests in the site. But even years after the relationship was terminated, and after the land changed ownership, a few misdirected political operatives are still trying to link Paul Vallone to the dumping.
Because of the change of ownership, Edgewater needed to apply for an extension of time for the Special Permit through the Community Board, which normally is an administrative approval, but because of the contaminated and illegal dumping, it became a bone of contention and everyone in the community wanted the place cleaned up first.
Meanwhile the heroes that hoped to transform the site from an industrial wasteland into a viable residential neighborhood project (which included a stipulation for environmental remediation) are being trashed with factual inaccuracies while a critical issue is being overly politicized and spearheaded by a recently formed syndicate of politically motivated operatives meant to misdirect the voters attention.
And now, while some blogs try to point the finger at certain candidates, the real crooks who actually did the dumping are getting away with what can only be described as a neighborhood atrocity.
But that’s just part of the damage the political propaganda has caused.
In today’s day and age, a family which is respected across New York City with a tradition of integrity and family values are being venomously attacked by a bunch of half-witted political operatives trying to make trash out of it with their lies and dishonesty.
For over 70 years the Vallone family have been one of Queens greatest advocates. Their tradition of positive leadership is uncommon in the world today. So why is it attacked with malice and caprice?
Case in point, a few planted forum goers at the Queensborough President’s debate waited to film until Peter made one comment and now there’s a vengeful video clip on Queens Crap.
Maybe it’s time for all of us to pull in and look inside ourselves. Maybe it’s time to reflect. Maybe it’s time to focus on who didn’t clean up the site.
Now there’s a place for leadership in the life of every community, for men and women who are not content to see their city or community lacking in anyway. We all want our particular neighborhood to be beautiful and progressive, free from political intrigue, crime, poverty, and sordidness. With the right kind of leadership, it is possible to make any neighborhood in Queens a place which the citizens will be proud to call home, and the influence of which will follow the next generation through life.
The Vallones have best exemplified that type of positive leadership in the community, in politics, and in the law. But it’s easy to become distracted from the facts, and even easier to fall into this mental trap where you can read and post hateful comments and articles anonymously. Don’t believe these cowards.
During this time of religious observance, let us look inward and appeal to our values, our beliefs, our hopes for the future and let us apply these lessons of morality into our political discourse.