Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Parks pilfered project cash
From the Times Ledger:
In April 2004, local papers reported details of a $4.12 million federal transportation allocation that had been secured by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside).
Funds included $1 million for the reconstruction and expansion of the Little Bay parking lot and $3.2 million to reconstruct the Cross Island Parkway Bridge overpass at 212th Street. The funding came from the federal TEA-21 bill and was signed off on by then-President George W. Bush.
More good news followed approximately a year later in July 2005, when then-City Councilman Tony Avella announced that he had provided a $1.3 million allocation for a comfort station in Little Bay Park.
Seven years have now passed and neither project have had a shovel in the ground. It is not unreasonable to question what has happened to $5.42 million that was intended to benefit the community.
In response to a recent inquiry initiated by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, it was learned that the city Parks Department and the city have taken “our” money, which came from different sources and bundled most of the distribution into one.
This was done without any notification of elected officials, community boards or civic groups. Parks claims that due to the ensuing confusion the wrong permits were applied for, which further delayed both undertakings.
As we are all too aware, co-mingling funds is never good practice. It inevitably results in a loss of accountability and a worst-case scenario can be an intentional or unintentional misuse of the financial allocation.
There must be a prompt public accounting for the $5.42 million in federal and city funding. In addition, the allocations must only be used for the intended purposes and in the designated locations.
Community Boards 7 and 11, along with the borough president’s office, are urged to begin an immediate official review and investigation of this matter. It is also requested that the office of the city comptroller commence a comprehensive audit in regard to these funds and actions of the agencies involved.
It is obvious that the planned park and traffic enhancements have somehow been derailed. It is time to get them back on track.
Bay Terrace Community Alliance Inc.