(Mets COO Jeff Wilpon is a) pointing to where Archie Bunker’s house used to be, b) showing reporters where the 30 foot high statue of Doug Sisk is going to be errected or c) telling the kid who wants Piazza’s autograph that posing as a construction worker is a really bad idea)
And no, this has nothing to do with Pedro’s rehab. Newsday’s Wally Matthews would like you to spare a thought for those likely to be displaced by the Mets’ glittering monument to greed and avarice. And he’s referring to CitiField, not Chris Cotter’s haircut.
“Soon this land is going to be worth a fortune,” said Daniel Sambucci Sr., owner of an auto salvage yard directly across from the construction site. He said this not with anticipation but with dread.
The stretch of Queens formerly known as the Iron Triangle is about to turn to gold. But not for the Sambuccis, who have been there for 57 years, or for the Feinstein Ironworks, there for 75 years, or for T. Mina Supply, Inc., which furnishes most of the city’s sewer pipes but can’t get the city to build sewers under its own building.
Their fear, along with the 200 or so other small businesses packed into the rugged 50-acre tract of landfill called Willets Point, is that soon, someone from the city will come bearing a declaration of eminent domain forcing them to vacate.
“The toughest thing about this is we haven’t heard a thing from anyone,” Thomas Mina Jr. said. “Not the city, not the Economic Development Council, not the borough president.”
Tomorrow morning, a business forum at Queens College will hear from Mets exec Dave Howard, who will tell them how great this will be for the people and businesses of Queens.
But all the businessmen across from the new park can hear is the constant pounding of piledrivers. Citi Field is rising inexorably, with two concrete towers and the steel skeleton of the concourse already in place. Nothing is going to stop it now, not the Willets Point Business Association, of which Mina is the president, nor any community opposition, of which there is none, nor any environmental surveys, which have all come back clean on the Mets’ side of 126th Street but dirty on theirs.
The Mets are going to have their new ballpark and all the revenue that 42,500 high-priced seats and 54 luxury boxes can generate, plus $20 million a year in naming rights, without having to pay the city a cent in rent or property taxes. It will be great for them, all right.
Meanwhile, the Sambuccis, Feinsteins and Minas, among others, each will continue to shell out upward of $50,000 in annual taxes while having to beg the city to plow their streets.
The area has actually come a long way from 20 years ago, when bodies were dumped on the streets along with the oil and the transmission fluid, but even on a good day, as Mina said, “It looks like downtown Baghdad around here.”
From the learn-something-new-every-day dept, it seems the Tigers bring an antique cap stretching machine with them to Spring Training. So they’re paying Andy Van Slyke to do, what, exactly?