24 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 5, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Ramos continues campaign against Peralta as IDC eyes deal with Dems
BY ANGELA MATUA
firstname.lastname@example.org / @angelamatua
After a nearly eight-year split, the
eight state Senators of the Independent
Democratic Conference (IDC) are nearing
Remediation, parking among new Willets Point concerns
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
Weeks after the city announced a new
long-term vision for Willets Point, Flushing
residents met this week to raise some concerns
with the first phase.
Originally made up mostly of auto shops
and junkyards before the city cleared the
area, plans to re-develop the site have been
hanging in the balance for years. Finally,
this February, the city and developers
announced they had come to an agreement
on a new plan.
On March 27, Community Board 7 members
met to discuss the latest Willets Point
development plan, which includes building
1,100 units of housing for low-income
and moderate-income New Yorkers, a 450-
seat public school with a playground, a 1.2-
acre public space and 20,000 square feet of
neighborhood retail on 6 acres of land at
the corner of Willets Point Boulevard and
Roosevelt Avenue. These components are
known as “phase A” of part one (23 acres).
The entire re-development plan will be broken
into two parts.
“The city has now shifted. We’re not
looking at a sale any longer; we’re now
looking at a long-term ground lease with
Queens Development Group (QDG),” said
city Economic Development Corporation
(EDC) spokesperson Eleni Bourinaris.
There will be a total of three affordable
buildings, with plans to reserve 220 homes
for low-income seniors and nearly 100
apartments for formerly homeless families.
The first building is slated to be completed
by 2022 and will deliver 500 affordable units,
Bourinaris told attendees at Community
Board 7’s quarterly Willets Point meeting.
The other two buildings are roughly estimated
to be finished between 2024-26.
Remediation work at the 6-acre site will
be completed by the end of 2020; the rest
of the site will be cleaned up at a later point.
“All of the work that we’ve done in
Willets Point to date has been above
ground, so we’re really trying to understand
what the below-ground conditions
are in this area,” Bourinaris said.
Board 7 Land Use Committee Chairman
Chuck Apelian raised concerns with “cherry
picking remediation,” which could lead
to offsite infiltration.
“You’re taking a piece and you’re not
cleaning all the rest, which is known to be
contaminated,” he said.
The city and QDG have already begun
underground testing at the site and anticipate
remediating the 6-acre plot in line
with DEC Brownfield outlines, Bourinaris
said. Regarding utilities and infrastructure
for the area, a plan will be formulated
during the city’s “six-month due diligence
plan” currently in development.
Apelian also raised concerns with the
projected parking. The city plans to build
300 parking spaces at the phase A space.
“These are things we can continue to
have a conversation about,” Bourinaris
said. “Right now, those spots are what is
required as of zoning.”
Shortly after the re-development plan
was announced, NYPD at the 110th
Precinct and the Department of Sanitation
tagged, issued summonses or towed over
100 cars from the area. With representatives
from the precinct and the neighboring
109th Precinct in attendance, members
raised concerns with dumping and a traffic
increase in the area.
Bourinaris said the area that has been
demoed is secured, but the area in question
is a street that cannot be closed off. She also
noted that a new transportation study on
the area is currently underway.
The city will from a task force, co-chaired
by Queens Borough President Melinda
Katz and Councilman Francisco Moya, to
determine how to proceed with the complete
“We want to have Community Board
7, 3, 4 at the table to make sure that we
are being as inclusive as possible of everyone’s
desires and visions for this area,”
Bourinaris said. “Understanding that we do
have an approved plan that did go through
this community board back in 2008: what
are the possibilities and how has the market
changed since 2008 in this community?”
In June 2017, the New York State Court
of Appeals announced that the proposal
by the Queens Development Group LLC
(QDG), a joint venture between Related
Companies and Sterling Equities, would
not be able to move forward without
approval from state Legislature. The twophase
development included plans to build
a shopping mall, movie theater and affordable
Frustrations began mounting at the community
board’s quarterly meetings in 2017.
Earlier this year, board chairperson Gene
Kelty raised concerns with an apparent lack
of a contingency plan.
The $3 billion project was first started
under the Bloomberg administration. The
city has already spent $287 million to purchase
the land, remove hazardous waste
and relocate many of the 225 auto repair
shops and junk yards in the area.
a reunion with mainline Democrats
through a deal that Governor Andrew
Cuomo helped broker.
The deal may not only put Democrats
back in charge of the State Senate — the
IDC had aligned with the Republican Party,
giving the GOP control of the chamber
— but also impact how the 13th Senate
District primary will play out. Queens
incumbent and IDC member Jose Peralta
is facing Jessica Ramos, a Jackson Heights
resident and former City Hall staffer.
Ramos announced her candidacy last
January, on the one-year anniversary of
Peralta’s IDC membership announcement.
Though Cuomo has previously stated that
he wanted IDC members and mainline
Democrats to reunify, this deal may be different.
Both Cuomo and most members
of the IDC are facing primary challengers.
According to The New York Times,
Cuomo discussed the reunification plan
with Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-
Cousins and IDC Leader Jeff Klein at a steakhouse
on April 3. Queens Congressman Joe
Crowley was also in attendance.
The plan would make state Senator Stewart-
Cousins the Democratic Leader and state
Senator Klein would be her deputy. Stewart-
Cousins asked to discuss the deal with her
party, according to The New York Times,
and a deal could be finalized as early as today.
If the deal is finalized, and Democrats
win two special elections later this month,
the number of Democrats in the Senate
would be brought up to 32, giving the party
a majority. But one of the Democratic
state Senators who is not an IDC member,
Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder, continues
to caucus with Republicans.
In a letter to the IDC, Ramos and six
other primary challengers wrote that “no
Albany deal should or will prevent a competitive,
healthy primary in which New
Yorkers strongly consider your allegiance
with the Republicans.”
“Since 2012, we’ve had seven straight
Republican budgets thanks to the IDC’s
continued support for Republicans,” they
wrote in the letter. “Because of your allegiance
with the Republicans, the budget
passed again this year with no Democratic
state Senator at the negotiating table.”
The challengers also provided a list of 13
initiatives that they argue were ignored or
“severely” underfunded in the budget, including
criminal justice reform, the Child Victim’s
Act, the DREAM Act, funding for the MTA,
rent reform, gun control and more.
Ramos said she finds it “unfortunate”
that the deal was agreed upon after the state
budget was finalized.
“The damage is done,” she told THE
COURIER. “The IDC and the GOP power
sharing agreement has resulted in years
of regressive budget for the state of New
York. Immigrants, children, seniors, working
families are hurting and we remain
focused on running a race that fights for
She argued that voters could not “trust
these turncoat Democrats to deliver for
working families” and that her campaign is
committed to running the race.
“We are focused on reaching out to voters
and letting them know everything that
we’ve missed out on because we’re currently
represented by a turncoat Democrat,”
Meanwhile, in the tentative agreement
in November 2017, mainline Democrats
agreed not to support primary challengers
if the IDC rejoined the party.
After the deal was announced, Cuomo’s
challenger Cynthia Nixon sent out an email
with links to dozens of articles to argue
that Cuomo had empowered Republicans
throughout his tenure.
“If you’ve set your own house on fire and
watched it burn for eight years, finally turning
on a hose doesn’t make you a hero,” she
said in a statement.
In February, Peralta told THE COURIER that
he thought a reunification plan was “very likely.”
Peralta did not respond to requests for
comment as of press time.
Photos by Angela Matua/THE COURIER
The IDC and mainline Democrats in the state Senate have agreed to reunify.