BY JORGE MUÑIZ-REYES
Working people or billionaires? That’s the choice before Speaker Corey Johnson’s City Council this month. It must decide before November 4th whether or not to advance a controversial private waterfront plan seeking to eliminate millions of square feet zoned for essential manufacturing on Brookyn’s working waterfront. Instead we need New York’s leaders to get to work on a big public waterfront plan confronting climate change.
City Hall leaders must start by saying no to the billionaires behind Industry City who are advancing a very vague business plan centering inessential luxury retail, hotels, and large office space. Thousands of community voices have rejected the plan outright and are backed by Congresswoman Velazquez, Public Advocate WIlliams, Council Member Menchaca, State Senator Myrie, incoming Assembly Member-Elect Mitaynes, State Senator-Elect Brisport, and a big group of newly elected Brooklyn Democrats.
Many testified last week about the need to seek alternatives to an economic model that the coronavirus crisis has now made obsolete. We’re seeing similar private projects at Hudson Yards in Manhattan and the Empire Outlet Mall on the Staten Island waterfront struggle to stay afloat financially. The pieces of the failed New York Wheel are actually still sitting on the Sunset Park waterfront after the flashy tourist attraction collapsed in 2018.
Instead of prioritizing this speculative plan centering the corporate welfare of Jamestown Properties, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo Gordon & Co, we need New York’s leaders to get to work on a public waterfront plan centering the community welfare of the working-class people of Brooklyn. It’s also the law. The City Charter requires its leaders to work together to deliver a ten year comprehensive public waterfront plan by December 31, 2020.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s working waterfront is where New York’s largest wind energy farms will be assembled and where all of our city’s metal, glass and plastic is recycled. Instead of abandoning our working waterfront to private corporate interests we could be activating it in the next ten-year waterfront plan to confront the threat of climate change as beautifully envisioned by groups like UPROSE and New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
Industry City’s corporate landlords are marketing their private plan as the only option on the table to create work for New Yorkers. City Hall leaders must start doing their job and create the next ten year working waterfront plan we need to protect Sunset Park, not Industry City!
JORGE MUÑIZ-REYES IS A BROOKLYN-BORN ORGANIZER WITH PROTECT SUNSET PARK AND WORKED AT CITY HALL BETWEEN 2014 AND 2018.