Much as I’d rather focus on David Wright recovering his power stroke, Newsday’s Wally Matthews tackles the far more serious issue of exactly who is going to get fucked over as Fred and Jeff Wilpon construct their new monument to avarice and greed (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
On the west side of 126th Street, the Mets are building themselves a new home, while three blocks away, in the rutted exhibit of planned urban neglect known as the Iron Triangle, Joe Ardizzone is just trying to save his old one.
The higher the concrete towers and steel framework of Citi Field rise, the lower the hopes of Ardizzone sink. But while Bruce Ratner has been successful in displacing – or, to use the preferred term of the real estate vulture, “relocating” – thousands of city residents to make way for the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, Ardizzone says there is no way the city or the Mets or any combination of the two will evict the one and only resident of Willets Point, N.Y.
“They’ll have to kill me and drag me out of here first,” he said. “This is my home. This is not democracy. This is not American. Why should I have to leave the place where I’ve lived my whole life so some billionaires can get richer?”
No one has yet told Ardizzone, who is 74 and more energetic than any man his age has any right to be, that he has to leave his two-story stucco and brick house, wedged between an ironworks and an auto parts dealer on Willets Point Boulevard, today, tomorrow or ever.
But then, no one has told Ardizzone or any of the 100 or so business owners in The Triangle anything.
“We don’t know what they’re going to do,” Ardizzone said, although he has a pretty good idea. “Their goal is to take all this away from us, come hell or high water.”
The high water already has come. In fact, it never leaves an area in which the only storm drain is used by Shea Stadium and where, although the area businesses pay as much as $75,000 a year in taxes, the city has never seen fit to install sewers or provide basic services such as snow removal or road repair. (By the way, the Mets don’t pay a nickel in real estate taxes now, nor will they on their new ballpark.)
“Since 1994, Fred Wilpon told us, ‘We’ve co-existed with you for 40 years and we can continue to co-exist with you,’ ” said Richard Musick, the spokesman for the Willets Point Business Association. “But about two years ago, he stopped returning our phone calls.”
Yesterday, the other shoe dropped. At a meeting with politicians at Tully Construction on Northern Boulevard, city councilman Thomas White Jr. passed along the bad news: Wilpon had changed his mind. “He said, ‘The junkyards gotta go,’ ” White told the group.
The stereotype angered Ardizzone even more than the death sentence it carried.
“People from the outside, they come here and all they see is junkyards,” he said. “This is a community, with hard-working people trying to make a living. These are human beings here.”