Cuomo and de Blasio Announce Amazon Community Advisory Committee

Long Island City viewed from the East River Ferry.  Eagle  photo by Lore Croghan.

Long Island City viewed from the East River Ferry. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan.

By David Brand

Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement with Amazon that would allow the tech giant to circumvent the community review process as it builds a massive corporate campus in Long Island City.

This time around, the two leaders reconvened to unveil a plan to form a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to help shepherd the project. According to a statement, the 45-member CAC is made up of “community and citywide stakeholders recommended by local elected officials” tasked with ensuring that local residents fill the 25,000 jobs Amazon says it will bring to town.

“The Community Advisory Committee will bring together stakeholders of all backgrounds to help shape this important plan,” de Blasio said. “Robust community engagement is critical to ensuring that the investments and resources generated from this project serve the needs of everyone in Long Island City and beyond.”

Opponents have criticized the lack of transparency in the deal to give Amazon roughly $3 billion in state and city subsidies while sidestepping the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).

Cuomo, however, said “community input will be a critical part of the development process.”

“We look forward to working with local elected officials, community organizations and residents to ensure their voices are heard as we work to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, generate billions in revenue that will be reinvested in the region, strengthen our infrastructure, and expand opportunity for New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

State Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, who represents Long Island City, hailed the CAC and the inclusion of a diverse set of activists on the committee.

"I am grateful to the activists who have agreed to serve on a diverse community advisory committee to provide important direction and feedback to guide this plan,” Nolan said. “It will be important to make sure that affordable housing, transportation improvements and anti-displacement efforts become reality over the course of this effort.”

Nolan was the only elected official representing LIC to announce her support for the CAC plan.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer have been fierce opponents of the Amazon deal since it was announced last month.

Though both lawmakers initially signed an overture letter to Amazon, they have since balked at the subsidies and the lack of transparency in the development.