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New York Wheel Gets Backing From Staten Island Leaders

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 12, 2013 11:57am
 The full Community Board 1 voted in favor of the zoning changes needed for the Ferris wheel.
New York Wheel Community Board 1 Vote
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WESTERLEIGH — The New York Wheel got the go-ahead from Staten Island leaders.

The world’s largest Ferris wheel, planned near the St. George Ferry Terminal, and the city's first large outlet mall were approved by Staten Island’s Community Board 1 at its full board meeting Tuesday night.

The board said it wants 100 percent of the money the city gets from renting the land to the wheel and Empire Outlets owners to pay for improvements in the borough.

Only one member voted against the application.

More than 100 residents and workers from building unions in the city were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting in All Saints Episcopal Church in Willowbrook.

Neither developer was present at the meeting.

Union workers asked the board to urge BFC Partners, the mall developer, to hire local union labor for construction.

“They’re asking for a chance to work on a project in their hometown,” said Keith Johnston, 55, an electrician with Local 3 who lives in Randall Manor.

Don Capoccia, principal partner of BFC, said at the board’s Land Use Committee meeting last week they were in talks to bring on union labor, but carpenters and joiners union representative Eamonn Carey said that the only contact Capoccia made was to schedule a meeting and then cancel it.

With several large developments coming into the neighborhood after the mall and wheel, Carey said it’s important BFC uses union labor.

“This project right now is going to set the tone,” he said.

The full board approved the project with the same proposals the Land Use Committee voted on at their meeting last week, including increased ferry service, improvements on Richmond Terrace and a North Shore Greenway.

The proposals the board added to the application are not binding, and members said it’s up to the local politicians to push for the improvements.

“It’s really up to, ultimately, the City Council as a whole, but it’s up to the delegation of Staten Island to take these conditions, accept them and make them binding,” said Vincent Accornero, chairman of the land use committee.

The application will now move to the borough president, and also needs to go before the City Planning Commission and, finally, the City Council before the zoning changes are approved.