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Letter Brownfield Application

Letter Brownfield Application

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Published by unitedtriangle
Letter to City Council re: Sterling-Related's Willets Point Brownfield Application
Letter to City Council re: Sterling-Related's Willets Point Brownfield Application

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Published by: unitedtriangle on Oct 04, 2013
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12/19/2013

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 Willets Point United Inc.
P.O. Box 560191 • College Point, New York 11356
October 4, 2013Hon. Leroy Comrie New York City Council – District 27113-43 Farmers BoulevardSt. Albans, New York 11412Re:Proposed Willets West mall / Willets Point development CEQR No. 07DME014Q
Deliberate omission of property from Brownfield Cleanup Program
Dear Council Member Comrie:As you know, the proposed Willets Point development is fraught with glaringdiscrepancies between what the project was supposed to be, versus what the City's chosendevelopers, Sterling Equities and Related Companies, actually intend to do. Now yet another deception has come to our attention.Thorough remediation of Willets Point property has always been touted as an alleged benefit of this proposed development. Sterling/Related have even tried to create the impressionthat the remediation of Willets Point property is such a benefit, that the public should tolerate thedrastic changes that Sterling/Related want to impose on the redevelopment plan that wasapproved in 2008. But now we find that Sterling/Related are even deceiving us concerning theremediation.Sterling/Related have said that they are enrolling the project into NYSDEC's BrownfieldCleanup Program ("BCP"). But what Sterling/Related have
not
publicly said, is that they aredeliberately
excluding
from the BCP certain notorious property that, by the developers' ownreasoning, may be most in need of remediation and most deserve NYSDEC scrutiny pursuant tothe BCP.
 Significance of enrollment in BCP:
For property that is enrolled in the BCP, upon successful completion of remediation NYSDEC will issue a Certificate of Completion attesting, among other things, to "thesatisfaction of the Commissioner" that "the applicable remediation levels set forth in the ECLhave been or will be achieved" and that "[t]he remedial program for the Site has achieved acleanup level that would be consistent with" certain uses. Under the circumstances, in which the public is paying for the remediation and NYSDEC will issue a Certificate of Completion for  properties that are enrolled in the BCP, the public rightly expects that
all
of the Willets Point"Phase One" property that is to be developed by Sterling/Related will be enrolled in the BCP andsubject to NYSDEC's scrutiny.Page 1 of 3
 
 Mysterious exclusion of numerous lots from the BCP:
We understand that Willets Point Phase One property that is not owned by the Citycannot be enrolled in the BCP at this time. But the City claims to already own 95 percent of thePhase One property. All of the City-owned lots within Phase One that Sterling/Related intend todevelop should be included within the developers' pending BCP application. But that is
not
thecase. Numerous City-owned properties located within Phase One – lots which Sterling/Relatedfully intend to develop – are mysteriously excluded from Sterling/Related's BCP application.For example, Block 1824, Lot 1 – a relatively large property – is already owned by theCity, but Sterling/Related have deliberately omitted it from their BCP application. Compare theattached maps depicting the intended Willets Point Phase One development excerpted from theFinal Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (showing Assemblage Options 1 and 2), both of which
include
Block 1824, Lot 1, with the next attached map excerpted fromSterling/Related's BCP application, specifying which blocks and lots Sterling/Related intend toenroll in the BCP, which mysteriously
excludes
Block 1824, Lot 1.It so happens that Block 1824, Lot 1 was for several decades the location of SambucciBros. Auto Salvage – an automobile wrecking and dismantling businesses that handled a largequantity of vehicles. By Sterling/Related's own reasoning, property with a history of such use isexactly the kind that should be most in need of remediation – and that the public wants to beassured will be remediated to the high standards of the BCP Certificate of Completion, andnothing less. Yet, Sterling/Related have deliberately omitted this property from their BCPapplication, so that it will be excluded from the BCP.
Why?
In addition to Block 1824, Lot 1, other properties that are owned by the City and intendedto be developed by Sterling/Related are also deliberately
excluded
from Sterling/Related's BCPapplication, such as Block 1824, Lot 12; Block 1824, Lot 21; Block 1824, Lot 28; Block 1825,Lot 55; Block 1826, Lot 1; and Block 1826, Lot 31. Online City records indicate that the Cityacquired all of those lots long before Sterling/Related submitted their BCP application to NYSDEC.It is
not
in the public's interest for Sterling/Related to cherry-pick certain Phase One properties especially properties whose prior uses fit the profile that Sterling/Related allegerequires extensive remediation – and deliberately omit those lots from the BCP application sothat they are excluded from the BCP, and so that no Certificate of Completion for those lots will be issued by NYSDEC pursuant to the BCP.Sterling/Related have never publicly explained why they are deliberately excludingcertain properties – including the former Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage site – from the BCP; nor have they even publicly admitted that they are doing so.To the contrary: Sterling/Related's representative testified to the City Council onSeptember 3, 2013 that "we're gonna clean our 23 acres; we have enrolled this project into thePage 2 of 3
 
 New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program" creating the false impression with the Councilthat all of the affected Phase One properties will undergo the program.
Withholding property from the Brownfield Cleanup Program should be the laststraw
– a clear warning to decision-makers that this development, which is supposed toremediate property once and for all, is
not
being properly implemented. It is bad enough thatSterling/Related have already compromised the affordable housing, the schedule, the new VanWyck ramps, 30+ acres of Queens parkland, and so much else. It is too much to allow them toalso compromise the remediation that is literally at the foundation of this project.The pending ULURP application of Sterling/Related has obviously been rushed tocoincide with the end of Mayor Bloomberg's final term, and the integrity of the Willets Point project originally approved by the City Council in 2008 has been sacrificed. None of that isnecessary.
Denying
this ULURP application of Sterling/Related will allow the next Cityadministration to take a fresh look at this project, and to ensure that its goals – includingthorough remediation of property – are respected, not evaded by a developer.Sincerely,Gerald AntonacciOn behalf of Willets Point United Inc.2 enclosurescc:All City Council members New York State Senator Tony Avella New York State Senator José PeraltaPage 3 of 3

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