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State Senator Denounces Inwood Rezoning Plans

 Residents listen as State Senator Marisol Alcantara announces her opposition for the Seaman Avenue rezoning application, Inwood Library redevelopment project and the InwoodNYC plan Thursday night.
Residents listen as State Senator Marisol Alcantara announces her opposition for the Seaman Avenue rezoning application, Inwood Library redevelopment project and the InwoodNYC plan Thursday night.
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DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

INWOOD — One Uptown politician has had enough with the rezoning talks and applications in the community, calling the latest iteration of the city’s proposal “bull---t” and requesting that more details of the projects be presented to the community.

State Sen. Marisol Alcantara officially announced Thursday night her opposition against the Inwood Library redevelopment project, the Seaman Avenue application and the city’s Inwood NYC rezoning, which were presented last week during a land use committee meeting.

“I’m 100 percent against the Inwood rezoning. I think it’s bull---t to come here and to talk about the library, and nobody can tell me who is going to own the land, who is going to build it,” Alcantara said. “We want to know. Is this going be owned by the city, or can it go into a land bank? Those are simple questions that we want to know.”

The meeting was specifically held as a public hearing for the ULURP application that aimed to rezone a stretch of Seaman Avenue for a project planned at 112-114 Seaman Ave.

The city's Economic Development Corp., also decided to present the latest InwoodNYC plan, which was released in late June, with the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and several other elected officials.

Alcantara, however, was not listed as one of those supporting the project.

Michael Carter, a spokesman for Alcantara, said the city’s “unsatisfactory” responses as to how affordable housing will be impacted after the Inwood NYC rezoning and the library projects were packaged, is what led the state senator to come forward against the rezoning.

Alcantara said she was originally in support of the housing component of Inwood Library redevelopment in May, when several local elected officials announced their support of the project, but that the lack of details on the project since then forced her to rescind her support.

“I’ve met with HPD on numerous occasions and they haven’t told us who is going to own the land. They haven’t told us what are the levels of affordability,” Alcantara said to DNAinfo New York Friday afternoon, adding that she’s paying a “political price” for standing against the projects.

The city's Housing Preservation and Development agency said when it began outreach for the Inwood Library site, "it was outside the boundaries of the Inwood rezoning area," but that the project changed when EDC expanded the rezoning boundaries. The project will go through the public review, as part of the larger rezoning.

HPD said it "will continue to engage the community and their elected representatives on the affordability that any development would provide, and the ways that the City has to ensure public control of that affordability as well as the land.”

The Inwood Library plan, which was first presented in January, was wrapped into the Inwood NYC plans in early spring.

Nancy Preston, of the community group Moving Forward Unidos, said of Alcantara's Thursday announcement that it was "nice to have someone speaking out."

“I tend to think that this means we’re being taken a lot more seriously as a political power,” Preston said of local community groups.

Local groups, like Preston’s, as well as Northern Manhattan Is Not 4 Sale, Save the Inwood Library, Inwood Preservation, have all been requesting meetings with the city and elected officials to discuss specifics of the rezoning projects.

Preston said this is the first time the state senator has made a “big, public statement like Thursday night.”

But not all the community groups were convinced of Alcantara's announcement. 

Jeanie Dubnau of Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association said Alcantara needs to do more, such as issuing a written public statement about her lack of support for the projects.

"Then we’d feel it was a real support for the community," Dubnau said.

Preston said she did bring this concern up recently to Alcantara, following her announcement.

"I told here there are other things that have been printed that you didn't make a statement about," Preston said.

Preston said she also urged the groups to continue pressuring Alcantara, and also encouraged her not to sit back now.  

"I said to her, 'you have to continue to stand up and speak,'" Preston said, adding that she asked the state senator to appear before the next community board meeting to make the announcement again. 

The state senator will have another opportunity to denounce the rezoning Tuesday night when Community Board 12 will meet again at 530 W. 166th Street on the second floor to finalize the resolution for the Seaman Avenue rezoning application.