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.”