Bloomberg Steps Into Willets Point Lobbying Push

Just on the heels of the highly contentious City Council term limits vote, Mayor Bloomberg has personally injected himself into the push to sway the council on his administration’s plan to redevelop Willets Point.

Today, Mayor Bloomberg met about the plan with groups of council members, including the Brooklyn and Queens delegations, according to one member. Even with another contentious issue on the horizon–property taxes–the mayor devoted the meeting to the issue of Willets Point. He and other officials, including Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber, gave their pitch on the plan and fielded questions on cost, the environment and other aspects, according to one in attendance.

The project–which seeks to remake an industrial area in Queens near Shea Stadium, in part through eminent domain–has caused a fair amount of controversy, mostly stemming from the possible widespread use of eminent domain. The local council member, Hiram Monserrate, has strongly opposed the plan as presented, but has consistently left open the door for an agreement. If he votes against it ultimately (the council must vote by Nov. 18), the city would have to try to round up enough votes from the rest of the membership, a tall task as most typically defer to the local representative.

"If Hiram ends up supporting it, I think it will pass without much controversy," one member said. "If he’s against it, that’s a tough one."

City officials have been scheduling meetings at a rapid pace with the council for some weeks now (more on this here, a feature we wrote earlier this month).

One member who did not attend: Charles Barron.

Mr. Barron, of Brooklyn, said he didn’t go because he wasn’t ready to support the plan because the city planned to use eminent domain to remove local businesses. "Ain’t no sense in me meeting with them," he said. He also was bothered that the mayor called for the entire delegation to meet on his side of City Hall, rather than going to meet them. Bloomberg Steps Into Willets Point Lobbying Push