Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We paid double for this lot

From the NY Post:

This is what your toll money buys -- a bleak, junk-strewn vacant lot on a rundown section of Rockaway Boulevard in Queens.

The small strip of land is empty save for a decrepit shed, a beat-up picnic table and a dirty paint can. Yet a local community group run by a state lawmaker paid over half a million dollars for it -- with money from the toll-rich Port Authority.

The market value of the blighted space was estimated at only $287,000 when the Rockaway Boulevard Local Development Corp. bought it in 2006. Yet the nonprofit group, founded by Assemblywoman Vivian Cook of Queens, inexplicably paid almost double, $560,500, in an all-cash transaction.

The purchase grew out of deal struck between the Port Authority and Queens community groups 10 years ago, when the PA wanted to start construction of its AirTrain to Kennedy Airport over opposition from residents and neighborhood leaders.

The PA agreed to provide the Rockaway Boulevard Local Development Corp. with a windfall of public money to improve a stretch of Rockaway Boulevard. But the cash went toward buying this vacant land, street sweeping, vague studies and the salaries of workers at the nonprofit run by Cook.

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