From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Call To Action From GWAPP
Filed under: 11211, 11222, 11378, Culture War, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Maspeth, Maspeth Queens, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
Follows is a form letter I received from this organization. It came quickly on the heels of this week’s Community Board 1 meeting at which Ms. Velazquez’s representative, Ms. Cruz, spoke.
Dear Congresswoman Velazquez,
We don’t need to tell you how long and hard we have been fighting for the city of New York to turn the MTA lot at 65 Commercial Street in Greenpoint into a park as explicitly promised in the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning Agreement – you joined us at every step in this battle.
So, it is with shock and utter confusion that we hear that you are rejecting the two sites agreed to by the MTA! And, being from an historically and currently environmentally victimized neighborhood, we are very sensitive to the issue of being dumped on with unwanted facilities but these two sites are not unsuitable, do not take away useable open space, will not have a negative impact on local residents… and moreover, are the result of SIX YEARS of negotiation and will actually CREATE park space in a critically under-served neighborhood!
Let’s look at each of the proposed sites for the MTA transfer specifically:
The Maspeth site:
· Zoned M3/Heavy Industrial
· Currently a truck depot
· In the midst of a completely industrial area with no residential dwellings nearby
· The entrance/exit routes almost all go directly back into Williamsburg/Bushwick over the Grand Avenue Bridge and NOT through Maspeth
The Williamsburg site:
· Directly beneath (and in complete shadow of) the Williamsburg Bridge
· Not on the waterfront (between Wythe/Berry)
· Not currently open to public – actually used to store Parks Vehicles
· Not planned as park space (unattractive space, it’s like an industrial cave)
· (also, we have been pushing the city – and it’s been included in the Vision 2020 Waterfront Plan – to move the DCAS facility just south of the base of the Bridge which would create a far bigger and WATERFRONT parkspace for the Southside)
Please reconsider your opposition to this VITAL move by the MTA.
These are good alternate locations for these facilities and your interference in the process will set us back years in creating the promised parkspace.
We are, of course, eager to talk through this issue with you and your staff.
Thanks and sincerely,
[ADD YOUR NAME]
I was present at this meeting and was— and am— quite frankly confused and troubled by this rather aggressive “response” from GWAPP. Follows are a few reasons why:
- If I understood Ms. Cruz correctly (I was present at this meeting, after all), Ms. Velazquez is not trying to kibosh 65 Commercial Street as being park space. Rather, she did not want this depot to be relocated to any part of her district on this side of the East River. All of which have environmental issues and dearth of park space: Maspeth, Queens, Williamsburg Brooklyn and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
- How anyone can disagree with the previous is beyond me. Then again, methinks GWAPP (or whoever sent out that email on their behalf) is comfortable with “dumping” this burden on another neighborhood so as to get a park. STAT. I, on the other hand, have serious problems with this. Call it a moral compass or merely ethics; but I am not going to step on another equally burdened community in order to get a park. If this means waiting a little longer so be it.
- It is my understanding that the information GWAPP sent out regarding the Maspeth site is inaccurate. What’s more, I have sojourned quite a bit around Maspeth. The bus depots they have there are colossal. What we have at 65 Commercial Street is child’s play compared to what they have the honor of having.
- Prior to Ms. Cruz speaking Rami Metal, the Community Liaison for Steve Levin spoke. Among other things he brought up the matter of 65 Commercial Street and that Maspeth was going to fight it. He essentially said “we” should fight them. Given that Maspeth and Greenpoint have had the same problems— for decades— and politicians come and go I have a slightly different idea of what “we” is. Greenpoint and Maspeth should unite, not fight. Or if we do choose to be fight it should be against the politicians and their woeful neglect of our respective communities.
My conclusions/opinions are as follows:
- I cannot shake the suspicion that what we’re seeing here is a political battle between Vito Lopez (via Steve Levin) and Nydia Velazquez. It is well known that they rather dislike each other.
- The previous is trying to use this issue— and us— as proxies to fight it out with the latter. No thanks.
- For the above reason(s) and more I object to this letter writing campaign by GWAPP.
Yes, we Greenpointers lack park space and MTA has been intransigent about vacating 65 Commercial Street. But does it have to come to this? I don’t think so. Certainly a better solution can be found? I want to see a complete list of alternative sites for this bus depot.
Those of you who agree (or disagree) with me can contact Nydia Velazquez’s office by clicking here.
Update, 5:32 p.m.: In the interest of equal time here’s an email I have received from Rami Metal.
1. Regarding putting the access a ride vehicles in Maspeth, I want it to be clear that our office has never asked the city to put the vehicles in any particular location, nor have we ever said that we did not want them to be located in our district. Our fundamental concern is that they simply not be on the current site. We have made it clear to the city that we would not have a problem with them putting them in Greenpoint if there was an appropriate location. We do not feel it appropriate to be NIMBY about this particular issue. We want the park we were promised six years ago.
2. The Access-A-Ride facility would be, for the most part, a parking lot. That’s what it is now and that’s what it would be in Maspeth or any other location. When one calls for an Access-A-Ride van, they do not come from 65 Commercial currently nor would they come from Maspeth. The site is a storage site for the vehicles for when the MTA gets new ones or receives broken down ones for repair or scrap. I live three blocks from the 65 Commercial site right now and every so often I will see an Access-A-Ride vehicle on Manhattan Avenue, usually late at night, headed to 65 Commercial. Our office has never ever received a single complaint about them and the MTA has said that they would not be going through the residential sections of Maspeth. They would most likely come in from the BQE or the LIE or Grand Ave from Brooklyn and drive through the M3-1 IBZ area of Maspeth. They would only be going through this 3 block area in Maspeth that, again, is zoned heavy industrial.
3. The Maspeth site is not only zoned M3-1, but the lot itself is zoned for parking facilities. It served this purpose in the past and therefore based on the zoning and past use, it is an entirely appropriate location.
4. We absolutely respect Maspeth’s desire for open space and fully support their efforts for a park at St. Saviour. We hope they get the park they deserve. The truth remains however that the Access-A-Ride vehicles will not prevent this open space from happening in any way nor will it contribute negatively to the residential areas of Maspeth. It will not even contribute negatively to the M3-1 area because, as I said before, it will basically be a parking lot. I do not want to discount Maspeth’s feelings that they get dumped on by the city, as someone who lives in Greenpoint and has worked for years to improve the neighborhood, I understand full well what being dumped on feels like. The air quality in the industrial parts of Maspeth is terrible and they have truck traffic just the same as we do but again, the site would be a parking lot.
5. Regarding the Congresswoman’s stance, I heard it at the same time that you did. All I know is that the site under the bridge was agreed to over a year ago and was known to the CAB, the community board and anyone else who was interested in the issue. Our office had not heard any objections to this site until this week. The Maspeth site was also under consideration as far back as this past summer and again the CAB knew about it this whole time. All I know is that if both sites fall through then we will be back at square one, six years in. For those of us who have been fighting for 65 Commercial to become a park over many years now (and I have only been a part of these efforts for the past 2 ½ years) this would be a major step backwards. This is not about politics. This is about getting the park that the Greenpoint community was promised. That’s it. This has been an often torturous fight with the City and the MTA. Going back to square one would, based on my experience working on this issue, mean many more years of delays.
P.S.: I have made my feelings on this matter know to both GWAPP and Ms. Velazquez.