Mayor Bloomberg says his $3 billion plan for Willets Point in Queens will become a reality despite opposition from a majority of the City Council.
"I think you will find virtually all of the City Council in the end signing on," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday when asked about a letter addressed to the planning commissioner, Amanda Burden.
The letter was signed by 31 City Council members and expressed "absolute opposition" to the plan.
"And I might point out that there's almost nobody that signed that letter, almost nobody, from Queens. They were from other places where perhaps they are getting support from real estate interests who just want to be able to be in a position to hold up the city," Mr. Bloomberg said.
Approval by the 51-member City Council is necessary for the plan to move forward, and a vote will likely not occur until November.
Yesterday, elected officials in favor of and opposed to the mixed-use development clashed outside a city planning hearing in Manhattan.
With bullhorns, banners, and signs reading "Save Willets Point," about 60 protesters, led by Council Member Hiram Monserrate of Queens, crashed a midday pro-Willets Point development rally at Washington Square Park — an event organized by the city's Economic Development Corporation.
The shouts and jeers of protesters were able to drown out the speakers, who included the president of Queens, Helen Marshall, and a state senator, Toby Ann Stavisky.
The president of the Flushing/Willets Point/Corona Local Development Corporation, Claire Shulman, a former president of Queens, accused Mr. Monserrate of bullying tactics. "I am surprised at this very undemocratic event. You have stifled this press conference and you should not have done that as an elected official of New York. Shame on you," she said.
Those in favor say the mixed-use project will support 18,000 construction jobs and 5,000 permanent jobs, generate billions in economic activity, and clean up an environmentally distraught area.
Those opposed say the plan does not include enough affordable housing, fair market compensation for current landowners, or traffic mitigation measures, and are demanding that the possible use of eminent domain be taken off the table.
Mr. Monserrate, who has been the lead opponent of the plans for the 62-acre site, defended his participation in the protest, saying: "I was invited to a rally and I am participating in support of my constituents. Democracy is about allowing different voices and opinions to be spoken."