2005-07-13 / Editorials

Let’s Get Back To Flushing Stadium/Willets Plans Without Delay

Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought the good fight for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but last Wednesday’s victory by London in being chosen for the event closes a major chapter in the Bloomberg mayoral administration. Now, it’s back to running the city, concentrating on his re-election campaign, and picking up the thread of numerous major development projects throughout the city, chief among them the building of a new baseball stadium for the Mets in Flushing and the rebuilding of the surrounding area—uprooting the blighted Willets Point auto junkyards and moving forward with plans for a comprehensive new development on the 48-acre site.

The mayor said in Singapore, following the games’ being awarded to London, “This effort [to try to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York City] was a catalyst to get a lot of things done.”

The Mets stadium project was front-and-center in the thoughts of advocates of the plan both before and after the Singapore vote took place. Now that we know the 2012 Summer Olympics will be held in London, those “other things” still remain. We don’t need the Olympics as an incentive for doing them, either. About a week before the fateful vote took place, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) reported that the Queens Assembly delegation had led the effort to authorize the state to provide $75 million for infrastructure improvements related to the stadium-Willets Point project.

Gianaris also reported that his colleague, Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D–East Elmhurst), had been selected to lead the delegation at meetings with the Bloomberg administration and Mets officials to discuss plans to create a local development corporation to carry out the comprehensive development plan for the stadium and the entire Willets Point region.

Another entity which solidly supports the stadium–Willets Point plans, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, in expressing disappointment at New York City being rejected as the 2012 Olympics site, said in a prepared statement that it nonetheless looks forward to working with the city administration to formulate plans for the new stadium and the broader area development.

Also standing by, anxious to move forward with the planning for the new stadium and Willets Point, is Borough President Helen Marshall. She has been more intimately involved with the Willets Point issue for many years, so that’s a particular concern for her.

There was such a buildup of support for the new stadium when Bloomberg announced it several weeks ago and there are high expectations that the mayor will address it promptly and get moving on it.

The Gazette feels the stadium-Willets Point project should now be given top priority status because it has immense economic implications for Queens in the matter of jobs, tourism and entertainment in general. Flushing is a vibrant area and it has the potential for becoming greater still with the proper development.

With the Olympic matter now behind us, there should be no delay in moving forward with the development of plans for the new stadium and Willets Point.

Gianaris has indicated that the Queens Assembly delegation’s meeting with the Bloomberg administration and Mets officials should be taking place right now. In addition, the city Economic Development Corporation should be announcing at this point the selection of the developer for the Willets Point project.

Now is an ideal moment for getting the ball rolling on these important, exciting and vital Queens developments. We hope the mayor will act on them without delay and let them be a legacy of the Bloomberg administration’s superlative campaign to bring the Olympic games here.

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