Long Island City Lawmakers including City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan rallied with over 80 people in front of a Long Island City public parcel on Saturday to demand that the de Blasio Administration curb private developments and offer more resources, such as schools or recreational facilities, to residents.
The demonstration targeted the various real estate developers and city agencies, such as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), that construct residential buildings without consulting residents.
Residents danced, sang, chanted and shared their opinions with one speaker, Brent O’Leary of Hunters Point Civic Association, taking aim at the Long Island City Business Improvement District as a city-venture that lacked input from locals.
“We are declaring [our] Long Island City BID,” he said. “Our BID has a recreational center, our BID has a school, our BID has a place for us to meet to experience and keep this community together,” he said.
Van Bramer said he had a recent meeting on the issue the Mayor’s office, the EDC and a real estate company over the city’s rezoning plan. He told attendees that he would reject any plan to redevelop the neighborhood that residents would oppose.
“This is just one part of the fight. The mayor and the city have six separate rezoning proposals right now in the pipeline. We have to stay mobilized, active, and together in what we want and what we need,” he said.
When asked by a few people, Van Bramer pledged that he would join a potential march to City Hall over the rezoning plan.
Nick Ventkoff, Justice for All Coalition, criticized private developers in the neighborhood for jeopardizing the life of residents, such as blocking sunlight with tall residential towers. He felt that city officials should not focus on profits, but the interest of residents.
“There are very common-sense solutions to all of these problems. [For example,] this building can be made into a school,” he said.
There was also talk of mitigating climate change with Bridget Nelson of the LIC Climate Coalition warning that the neighborhood requires infrastructure to curb flooding. She suggested designating 44th RFP Site as a wetland park.
Nolan recalled hearing officials at City Hall dismissing Long Island City a “dormitory community.” Now, after it grew to the lucrative neighborhood that is part of the city’s rezoning process, Nolan warned residents must protect the community they built.
“This is an amazing city-owned piece of property that does not have to be the way the EDC is talking about it,” she said. “We have the power in our lives to try to say what we want.”