May 3, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Elected officials representing areas of Long Island City and Sunnyside have already rejected the city’s next step in the Sunnyside Yard project just announced earlier today.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan both expressed outrage over the city’s announcement that a consulting team has been selected and a community group has been formed to work on the master plan for the 180-acre yard.
Both officials were blindsided by the announcement, and were not briefed as to the makeup of the group.
But the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the master plan, claims all local elected officials at the city, state, and federal levels of government have been invited to participate and or send representatives as part of the process.
Nolan, however, said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who is listed as co-chair the Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee along with Tony Coscia, Chair of the Amtrak Board of Directors, did not reach out to her about the steering committee.
“I am incredibly disappointed that Deputy Mayor Glen did not reach out to get my input as the elected representative of this district for over thirty years,” Nolan said in a statement. “I have worked closely with the Mayor on many issues and it is shocking to see community voices denied in this process at the very beginning.”
Nolan said the steering committee consists of many talented community leaders, but has to be more diverse and reflective of Western Queens. She demands that local elected officials be able to recommend people to the panel.
The Assembly member, who has staunchly opposed developing over Sunnyside Yard, said she will be introducing legislation to give the state and the legislature more input into the process.
Van Bramer, also been a vocal opponent of decking the yard, said the EDC’s roll out of the master plan details was “botched.”
He said the agency did not inform him that an announcement regarding the master plan would be made today.
“It probably would have been a good idea if they had convened all of us [elected officials] to talk about it,” Van Bramer said. “It certainly would have been wise to give folks a serious heads up that this was happening. I think catching people by surprise is the last thing you wanna do on something this controversial.”
Van Bramer said the idea of developing over the yards is deeply concerning, and something he would “never” support.
“I think, once again, this is part of the problem with this administration where they have a vision of what they want our community to look like, but it’s not our vision,” he said. “The fact that they are moving forward in the way that they’re moving forward is outrageous, and I am not going to support a plan to build massive towers over Sunnyside Yards.”
In a statement, the EDC said: “All local elected officials have been invited to participate in the Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee. The master planning process will include many opportunities for elected and stakeholder engagement. It’s our goal to ensure that the many diverse communities surrounding Sunnyside Yard have a seat at the table in the planning and visioning process.”
A new subway line needs to be required to build this development. All the existing lines are packed to the brim. I am sure Amtrak is salivating at the real estate revenue they can get from this and there is nothing wrong with building more housing per say, but these new people need to get to work, school, etc and our transportation options need to grow with it as well.
Oh the humanity!!!
At least there won’t be any “big toes” living over the tracks. Amen to that!!!
Check out Crowley’s website (crowley.house.gov) for this May 8 joint statement:
“We are deeply alarmed by the city’s decision to move forward with plans to build a massive residential and commercial development in Sunnyside Yard without seeking adequate community input or establishing sufficient infrastructure and transit options for local residents who will be impacted by the project.
“If the city accelerates the Sunnyside Yard project without seeking community input, it will only further contribute to the affordability and public transit crises that have created chaos for New Yorkers. We urge the city to cease development of this project until our voices and concerns have been fully considered.”
Explaining, Al & Rick, & sorry, Gardens Watcher, I never have enough time to be brief 🙂
When pols speak out in a way that opposes the most powerful force in NY, REBNY, good to show our support for them.
Both Nolan and Van Bramer ran against the machine, AKA Queens County, and won. Both have made decisions I was not for (MIH, 421-a). But mostly in areas of majority views, both have remained faithful to voters.
Nolan should be Speaker, in terms of ability, but is not, because she navigated the waters and survived not completely under the thumb of those deciding. We saw the widespread smears against JVB when he voted “no” on 50-25 Barnett/Phipps. And we see in the current climate of REBNY dominance, all pols are punished for backing constituents.
On Sunnyside Yards, both have multiple times beaten back attempts from REBNY to deliver the Yards for private profit. This new end run around them is most recent in a series of attacks on our interests and representational democracy. If we don’t speak up in their favor, who will?
Land grab: The interests of REBNY are not one with the beating heart of NYC and its people. So much is already lost with too many unattractive high-rises crowding out the sky with no concomitant infrastructure. But when I want to blame the elected alone, I remember only 24% of registered voters voted.
Where is a proposal from the city as might be issued by a LaGuardia-run city for a giant park, for transit, uses that have no major for-profit component, uses to improve Queens and the city? Imagine long-term quality of life, and property values if infrastructure was provided.
But money without risk is the REBNY goal, not the actual improvement of lives and neighborhoods. REBNY donates the most $ to those who can deliver land and laws. Using public money, city resources, and land, without risk, is the new business model for REBNY.
Our country is skewed into an “everyone is out for themselves” OS that has not improved since 2008, when we saw that banks could get away with pillaging at no risk.
People will look at you strangely to even ask, “what ‘s in it for Queens, or the people, or the city?” approach. The so-called “affordable housing” is another profit center for REBNY members.
“Can You Handle the Truth” is an Op Ed I wrote on roughly this topic here, if interested:
heard there are going to be people living on top of old trane tracks.
YAP YAP YAP………..there is only way this might work if there is a FULL TIME train subway stop to the new LIRR connector to grand central..
Dont know what to make of all this.. Some local politicians deliberately left out of the planning?!.. Unthinkable,if true. I hope and believe they go ahead and show up at these meetings and make total nuisances of themselves, if necessary. Sometimes that CAN make a difference. Even now. Dont give up. The comments about the Congressman are troubling,too. If/ when this young challenger comes to speak in the area, please post. Let’s hear what she has to say. God bless, all.
Build a huge park, Green Space, a specialized High School like Bronx Science, a couple elementary school grades kinder to 8th, expansion of LaGuardia Community College, a police station and a fire house, a recreation center, no Bar B Queing allowed that should be it.
JVB and Nolan forgot how things work in NYC. money, power, and influence of corporations, especially developers control outcomes, especially political ones. he really has no say, only suggestions. this is a multi billion dollar deal and those involved probably dont want it to fall through the cracks or squandered.
Forget additional Housing, without new Sanitation, Police, Fire Stations and supporting infrastructure and transit improvements ANY additional housing would just make matters worse. Like the BQX, the development of Sunnyside Yards, is another pox on an already blighted community. The Sanitation Garages and Police Precincts as well as Firehouses were all built before the Second World War, Hospitals have closed without replacements and “City Planning Experts” and some Politicians are willing to further destroy the existing “Quality of life” in Western Queens for their “Thirty Pieces of Silver”? Enough is enough with these opportunists.
From a different perspective — a very different perspective: my Dad worked for 40+ years in Sunnyside Yard in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. A freight conductor for the Pennsylvania Railroad, he worked literally thousands of nights in intense heat and bitter cold — moving railroad freight cars from Sunnyside Yard to Manhattan under the East River. Hard and dangerous work. For 4+ decades. Many fond memories of Dad and I going down the steep and — for a kid — scary open stairs to the dispatcher’s office below Honeywell Street — the block that connected Northern Blvd in Astoria with Skillman Avenue.
I live in Wisconsin now and have called it home for 30+years. But I sense that Dad would not approve of such a project — designer towers plastered over what was once a bustling work space for men (yes, mostly men back then) who earned a good wage to support their families.
It was a simpler time, yes. But a New York City we both loved. So special…so long ago.
If there are public spaces built in, it would be great for folks who dont have access to Green space (aka non Sunnyside gardens members like myself.) And, affordable housing units for a city that really needs them.
Hey, my dad was a freight conductor in the yards in the 1950-1960s too! They surely knew one another.
That said, NYC is expected to hit 9 million inhabitants in a few years & the rate of new arrivals is increasing. It only makes sense that the largest parcels of unbuilt land in near Manhattan be developed for the future. A train station for Grand Central could easily be included now. Sunnyside & LIC need green spaces as well. I definitely support this plan for the future.
If they cover the tracks and provide:
*A new subway line (going from JH to Manhattan)
*A School and/or Hospital
*And REAL mixed income housing
Then this would be a win-win.
Otherwise, it’ll be a disaster.
Nolan and JVB upset they had not been consulted. They want to control the agenda – with control comes the money and the bargaining chips – why not oppose the deplorable conditions and overspending/waste of resources and of millions of our tax dollars by housing the homeless in hotel rooms in our community instead of supporting the creation of affordable housing. Working poor families deserve a decent place to live.
Thank you to van Bramer and Nolan. It is not NIMBY to recognize that the people who _already_ live in adjacent areas are dealing with impossible subway service (delays, fixes, ‘signal improvements’ going on for years) and other inadequate infrastructure that already makes life hell. Just build more giant apartment buildings at ‘not affordable’ rents. The notion that some big developers set aside ‘lower rent’ apartments turns out to be a joke, when you see what those rents are – not lower rent at all. DiBlasio’s ‘vision’ never manages to see the people who already live here.
ITS al about the money for mayor DeMafioso , he had to pay his “ donors “ ( developers ) . Like the MTA care only about the Mets fans , the same with the so called “ mayor of all boroughs “ . Hope he’ll put some homeless people in the new buildings .
Unfortunately, I believe that Van Bramer and Nolan show up on the wrong side of history. This categorical NIMBY attitude, already on display in the discussion about the Phipps project on Barnett Avenue, is bad for the city. Therefore, it is the wrong attitude for Albany, City Hall, and the borough presidency.
Who are the “real estate interests”? I think there are two kinds: On the one hand, there are those that build housing. In the regulatory environment that our “city leaders” have built over the last decades, builders have to know how to walk the fine line of legal and illegal bribing, rubbing the right shoulders, and working the regulatory jungle with lawyers, architects, expeditors and all kinds of consultants. With barriers of entry that high, don’t be surprised profits are high, too. On the other hand, we have real estate interest that don’t build. These people just own: Perhaps it’s their house or apartment they live in, and they want its value to keep rising to the stars so they have a nice asset to retire on or hand over to their children. Or they are landlords, giddy about constantly rising rents underlying market values making them millionaires and multimillionaires. This is something you only see in places like New York and San Francisco, where regulation-heavy beaucrats and NIMBYs like Van Bramer and Nolan work hand-in-hand, to, in the end, benefit BOTH real estate interest. Left to eat dirt are most renters, newcomers, young people trying to make a start in the city without inheriting an apartment, and, in general, the future of NYC.
I wish that our local representatives become true city leaders and see how to turn this challenge into an opportunity for Sunnyside, LIC, and Astoria and look beyond the loud voices of all the NIMBYs among us. The city needs to allow housing being built for everyone who wants to come and work here, but if NIMBYs always get the last word then none is being built anywhere.
So, the people should just stay quiet and bear up under this assault? That is not the way I was raised. Speak out to injustice!
Brevity is a virtue DD.
I agree, DD. Thanks for posting.
Let’s not waste this opportunity. If this gets built, it should be designed to meet 22nd century standards. Make the streets for people, and limit cars and on-street and off-street parking as much as possible. Build bike paths — not just protected bike lanes — that are up on the curb on every street; make it a little Amsterdam. Add tons of bike parking at the nearby subway stations. Let’s make this a place anyone 8 to 80 years of age can travel easily on her own power, and independently.
You are bike obsessed. Psychiatry may have a pill for that, you should check it out.
Well I walk past the yards on a daily basis. Huge drainage pipes being, catches, water pumps so the prep work already underway. It’s no surprise. Jimmy Van Bramer is in it for the money, he’s ambitious and could yield his power when necessary but his best buds with the Mayor. They are both pushing the progressive overspending agenda. The main job of a politician is to raise money to get reelected. He’ll be looking for hand-outs from developers when he runs for Queens Borough President.
Gotta protect the property values of the super rich in Sunnyside gardens while rents continue to rise for everybody else!
No one cares about their opinion because they’ll just be obstructionist NIMBYs.
Related to all this is why Councilmember Van Bramer, a self-labelled “progressive”, continues to embrace Boss Joe and has ignored the candidacy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an actual true progressive. There’s no doubt Boss Joe has been made fully aware and likely given decision-making power over every aspect of the potential Sunnyside Yards development, including the formation of the steering committee, who sits on the committee and the timing of the announcement. Boss Joe is wholly owned by NYC real estate interests, and REBNY is a long term major donator to Boss Joe’s campaign slush fund. Boss Joe made sure Corey Johnson, and not Jimmy Van Bramer, was elected City Council President. One of Corey Johnson’s first acts as Council President, to loud applause by REBNY, was to eliminate the one true power Van Bramer had over development in district neighborhoods: the ability to veto required approvals of proposed developments, which for example Councilmember Van Bramer exercised in the Phipps Houses proposal. Van Bramer and Nolan are powerless to do anything about the Sunnyside Yards project as long as Boss Joe holds the NY 14th House seat. Ms. Ocasio-Ortez, who is running in the primary election on June 26h, has an actual platform statement that will limit the ability of real estate developers to run roughshod over neighborhoods and will empower local residents to have an actual voice in what happens in their neighborhoods. If anyone can find anything Boss Joe has said on this important issue, please let us all know in the comments below. Long story short: if you want to stop the Sunnyside Yards development, Vote for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on June 26th to represent the Democrat Party in the November 2018 election to the House of Representatives.
The mayor and the EDC are deaf, evidently. Thank you Jimmy and Kathy for listening to the people who actually live here. To the mayor it seems we are simply mute motes of dust that will eventually blow away in the great upheaval he has vowed to commence.
Bravo Nolan and Van Bramer for representing the the people of Queens against a plan by real estate lobby.
Come on Pat. Cathy Nolan is the ultimate political hack who keeps getting elected over and over because the corrupt Queens political machine allows no competition. She’s done nothing. Then when she retires you’ll be yelling for a street to be named after her. Vladimir Putin has more competition than Cathy Nolan. Enough of her already.
Pat: You are just a rubber stamp for Cathy Nolan. Cathy Nolan is part of the corrupt Wueens democratic machine that allows no competition. Lets see the SSP print this letter.