Tag Archive: Development

Aug 30 2013

Quinn Lackey Propped Up By Quinn Machine

COREYWhile not in Queens, Queens-Politics has been keeping a close eye on soon-to-be former Council Speaker Quinn’s seat in Manhattan District 3 between Yetta Kurland (who challenged Quinn four years ago) and Corey Johnson. The reason being is that a watchful eye will give an inside glimpse into the Quinn machine, which is attempting to handpick her successor by paving a route to victory through unfair means for Corey Johnson – a barely qualified candidate with a questionable background.

Perhaps most alarming, just the other day, The Villager, made an endorsement in the race selecting Corey Johnson with a bunch of exaggerated claims. The Villager is long been rumored to be controlled by Quinn loyalists. Unsurprisingly in their endorsement, The Villager wrote in rave fashion that Johnson has a “better grasp” of the details of development issues in District  3 – which is a ridiculous statement not only because he is rumored to have just a high school diploma – but because his opponent, Yetta Kurland, is extremely intelligent and more knowledgable on development issues especially when taking into account her experience in the community combined with her education: she has a Bachelors, a Masters, and a law degree. Johnson on the other hand, only worked for a real estate development firm.

If The Villager’s endorsement meant that Johnson – while working for a million dollar real estate development firm – gives a better grasp of the minute details of development issues, well then we rest our case. However, after watching the debate, we’re convinced The Villager was bending the truth — if not outright exaggerating.

Case in point, tonight on The Road To City Hall, Kurland and Johnson were invited for a debate. Answering Errol’s question on how to keep hospitals open (an important issue since St. Vincent’s Hospital served District 3 before closing), Johnson erroneously claimed that St. Vincent’s Hospital was a private institution and proceeded to group St. Vincent’s in with other “profit-generating centers.”

This is incorrect on the most basic level. St. Vincent’s Hospital was a 501c3 non-for-profit charitable organization, not a private hospital. Luckily, Kurland was able to correct her opponent in time. And not only did she correct Johnson, but she offered a detailed plan to get a hospital back while her opponent was unable to articulate a detailed plan for a new hospital.  

And yet, somehow, The Villager claims Johnson has “details and vision.” Is this what they meant?

Contrasting Johnson’s performance on the NY1 debate with the endorsement claims made by The Villager raises serious doubt to their ability to objectively choose the best candidate for District 3, especially if anyone was thinking about taking this endorsement seriously. 

Also, there’s a lot of hypocrisy and whitewashing evident in Johnson’s campaign. For instance, Johnson, who for months criticized campaign spending by outside groups, has been silent now that his campaign is receiving support from the independent expenditure known as Empire State PAC.

The clear choice, the independent choice is Yetta Kurland.

See the video here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/08/quinn-lackey-propped-up-by-quinn-machine/

Mar 29 2013

Blame Game For Contaminated Field Project

blame_game-300x239Factual 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.

decinvestigation_ne_2012_09_20_q_courtesybaronemanagement_i

A rendering of the proposed development.

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.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/03/lets-play-blame-game-for-contaminated-field-project/


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