Governor Patterson Suspends State Funding Of Construction Projects For Budget Crisis, Exempts Roosevelt Island's FDR Four Freedoms Park - Why?
The NY Post, NY Times and NY 1 are reporting that Governor David Patterson is suspending hundreds of New York State funded construction projects. According to the NY Post:
Gov. Paterson moved on two fronts yesterday to shore up the state's teetering finances: halting hundreds of state-funded construction projects and freezing another $2.1 billion in school aid.According to NY 1:
The emergency actions came as the state approached another fiscal year -- its 26th since 1980 -- without a balanced budget.
Paterson officials said the lack of a 2010-11 spending plan by the April 1 deadline would mean the end of the road for some 500 building projects not funded by federal stimulus money.
Ongoing projects facing shortfalls in state aid include the $407 million effort to repair and expand the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, which carries I-95 over the Harlem River, and plans to reconfigure the Long Island Expressway's interchange with Route 110 in Huntington.
Paterson's extraordinary fiat might keep other projects from starting altogether, such as the $75 million plan to build a highway connection for the Army's base at Fort Drum near the Canadian border. Bids for the project were due to be let tomorrow....
...For now, only projects paid for with federal stimulus funds will move forward. The rest will have to wait until the state Legislature and the governor come up with a spending plan.How does this suspension of NY State funded construction projects impact the $4 million in State funding allocated to the proposed FDR Four Freedom Park Boondoggle on Roosevelt Island?
However, any project that addresses emergency health and safety needs will be exempt from the suspension.
When I learned of the suspension of NY State funded construction projects my sentiments echoed this tweet from Value Everything:
Great! Does this mean they'll stop the FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island? http://bit.ly/9f0xvE I hope so, cause it'll be ugggggly!So I inquired of Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Steve Shane how this will impact Roosevelt Island's proposed FDR Four Freedoms Park as well as any other Roosevelt Island project including the Tram Modernization.
Mr. Shane replied:
I am advised that the Governor's announcement will have no impact on the State appropriation for the FDR Four Freedoms Memorial.followed by:
Also, zero impact on Tram modernization project. Money already in ESDC's and RIOC's account.I responded:
I do not mean to be sarcastic or snarky in any manner but what "emergency health and safety needs" does the FDR Four Freedoms Park meet in order to be exempted from the Governor's construction project suspension?Mr. Shane answered:
I have no idea, but it is not on the suspend list.I then received the following RIOC Advisory:
Due to construction, South Point Park will be close until further notice.and asked Mr. Shane:
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Is the closure of Southpoint Park due to construction for the FDR Four Freedoms Park? If so, shouldn't any construction wait until you are sure that the Governor's suspension of State funding is confirmed, otherwise the Park is needlessly closed.who answered:
There are two projects going on. One is Phase II of the Southpoint Open Space project (aka Green Rooms/Wild Gardens) and the second being the FDR Four Freedoms project. The State funding is confirmed.This is just an additional instance of what appears to be special consideration being given for the politically connected FDR Four Freedoms Park Memorial Boondoggle. For example this happened just yesterday. I asked Mr. Shane:
During the RIRA Town Hall meeting last Wednesday, you indicated that the FDR Four Freedoms Park Memorial agreement has been finalized, in escrow, it's release from escrow imminent and when it was released from escrow RIOC would make the agreement public. Has the agreement been released from escrow and if so, can you forward me a copy so that I may post on Roosevelt Islander blog.Mr. Shane sent the material requested and added in regard to the approval by NYC Design Commission:
Also, has the FDR Four Freedoms Park Memorial been approved by the NYC Design Commission? I have been trying to confirm that NYC Design Commission has approved the project but have not been able to do so yet. If it has not been approved, does that have any impact on the agreement between RIOC and FDR Memorial promoters?
no, it was not and no it was not required to be.In reply, I asked:
In response to your answer below, why does the FDR Memorial Project design for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park not need to be submitted to and approved by the NYC Design Commission? According to the NYC Design Commission's web site:Mr. Shane responded:... The Design Commission reviews permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed on or over City-owned property. Projects include construction, renovation or restoration of buildings, such as museums and libraries; creation or rehabilitation of parks and playgrounds; installation of lighting and other streetscape elements; and design, installation and conservation of artwork.,,,
Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park is certainly NYC owned property, notwithstanding the City's lease of Roosevelt Island to NY State. For such an important change to NYC waterfront open space park land, why shouldn't the appropriate designated NYC agency that reviews similar projects review the proposed FDR Memorial Park? Indeed, supporters of this Project have claimed that this Project is not just a Roosevelt Island park, but one for the entire City, State and County. If, as claimed, the FDR Memorial Park is such a high profile and prominent addition to New York City open space Park Land, shouldn't a Project of such importance be reviewed by the NYC Agency that is charged with and trained to review it's appropriateness for the proposed location? If not, what makes the FDR Memorial Project so different?
Further, in a matter primarily, if not solely concerning Roosevelt Island residents, you recently sought a RIOC Board resolution waiving the necessity of any required approval by the Design Commission for the Manhattan Tram Station re-design. In a matter such as the proposed FDR Memorial at Southpoint Park, which is claimed by RIOC and other supporters to be of great City, State and national importance, it would seem as though approval of the NYC Design Commission is more warranted or at least, RIOC should attempt to get a formal waiver of the Design Commission's approval. Whether one supports or opposes this particular project, all should agree that proper legal procedures should be followed. To not do so appears arbitrary and capricious, given previous practice.
Also, please remember a similar occassion when you incorrectly claimed that a RIOC Board resolution was not required to approve the FDR Memorial and later decided to proceed with a formal vote on the matter. Perhaps this is a similar occasion...
Up to you to pursue. We have been advised that there is no such requirement.and:
we went through the Design Commission's jurisdiction in connection with the Tram. They asserted no jurisdiction over facilities on Roosevelt Island. Indeed, were one to follow your logic, everything here would be required to be submitted to the DC, a most awkward and administratively difficult result.followed by me:
If the FDR Four Freedoms Memorial is of such City, State and National importance as supporters assert, then the NYC Design Commission might reasonably be anticipated to assert jurisdiction assuming they know about the project.Finally, Mr. Shane:
My logic does not require every Roosevelt Island project to be submitted to the Design Commission, only those that meet this criteria:Very few Roosevelt Island projects meet these criteria - other than the landmarks.... The Design Commission reviews permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed on or over City-owned property. Projects include construction, renovation or restoration of buildings, such as museums and libraries; creation or rehabilitation of parks and playgrounds; installation of lighting and other streetscape elements; and design, installation and conservation of artwork.,,,
I am advised that the Four Freedoms Memorial was submitted to the Design Commission for a "courtesy" review last April 27 as the DC did not think it had jurisdiction. At that time, the project was without objection and reportedly received kudos.Why a "courtesy" review of this project and not a full public hearing by the New York City Design Commission? No idea but the FDR Four Freedom Park certainly seems to be on some sort of "unique" track particularly when you consider the 41 existing NY State Parks and 14 Historic Sites that are planned to close due to the budget crisis yet this non-existent Park is being funded to the tune of $4 million in State Funds and another $4.5 in NYC funds for what is purported to be only the first of three phases totaling at least $45 milion? Given that we are in the Passover Season, perhaps one can paraphrase and ask:
Why Is the FDR Four Freedoms Park taxpayer supported project different from all other taxpayer projects?Why indeed?
Below are the recently completed documents regarding the FDR Four Freedoms Park including
- Funding Agreement Between RIOC and New York City
- Development Agreement Between RIOC and Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedom Park LLC (FDR LLC)
- Letter Agreement Between RIOC and FDR LLC and
- Escrow Agreement Between RIOC, FDR LLC and JP Morgan Chase
Development Agreement RIOC FDR 2010
Letter Agreemnet RIOC FDR 2010
Escrow Agreement RIOC FDR JP Morgan 2010