In 2010, the City Parks Foundation was granted $7 million in mitigation funds to be allocated for beautification and general improvement projects on both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek.
In 2011, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority transferred an additional $1.2 million to the CPF’s Newtown Creek Environmental Benefit Project fund.
But four years after the fund was established, nearly 90 percent of that money has yet to be distributed. Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) wants to know why.
“I remember hearing about this process during the election of 2008. Here it is, almost seven years later and the money hasn’t gotten out,” Lentol said. “City Parks Foundation is sitting on $7 million and we need some answers.”
During a Newtown Creek Environmental Benefit Project progress meeting last Wednesday in Long Island City, CPF President Alison Tocci defended the agency’s process of distributing funds, discussing what’s already been funded.
According to Tocci, 12 percent of the $8.2 million CPF was allocated has been distributed to community organizations, mostly in Brooklyn.
But, in response to the Assemblyman’s criticism, Tocci said it’s the state Department of Environmental Conservation that decides what projects will be given funding, not CPF.
“I just want to clarify for people that CPF serves as the administrator for the fund. We don’t select the projects,” Tocci said. “We work with the community representatives and the DEC once the projects are selected in the order of priority set by the DEC.”
Of the $992,468 that has been spent by CPF thus far, $820,000 of it has gone towards administrative fees, with about $76,000 in interest accrued on the fees going back into the fund.
About $40,000 has been spent on the planning of a boathouse in Greenpoint, $53,000 for ecological studies inside bulkheads in the creek itself and $2,500 was allocated for a proposed waterfront park along 47th Avenue between 27th and 29th streets in Long Island City’s Dutch Kills neighborhood.
According to the DEC’s list of projects to be funded, the estimated cost of the Dutch Kills park will be $2 million, while the ecological studies and tree planting along the waterway in Long Island City and Maspeth will each cost about $500,000.
Additionally, a $1 million study of the Pulaski Bridge and a proposed $1.125 million park at the former St. Savior’s site in Maspeth are on the department’s list of secondary projects, which will be funded depending on how much money is left over from the priority projects.