Ft. Totten/Bay Terrace, Queens - $5.

42 Million in Government Funding Sits Unused The April 29th, 2004 edition of the Queens Chronicle reported details of a $4.12 million federal transportation allocation: "Congressman Gary Ackerman announced on Monday that he has secured $4.12 million in federal transportation money to expand parking capacity and reduce traffic congestion leading into Fort Totten, in preparation for the former fort’s transformation into a city park."""Funds include $1 million for the reconstruction and expansion of the Little Bay parking lot, located in front of the fort’s main entrance, and $3.2 million to reconstruct the Cross Island Parkway bridge overpass and 212th Street, the only road providing access to the property. The funding comes from the federal TEA-21 bill, and is expected to arrive as soon as President Bush signs off on the measure." More good news followed approximately a year later in July of 2005 when Council Member 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 has experienced a shovel-in-the-ground. It's 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 the office of Representative Gary Ackerman discovered that the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in concert with the City of New York, has taken "our" money which came from different sources and bundled the entire distribution into one. This was done without any notification of elected officials, community boards or civic groups. Parks and Recreation claims that due to the ensuing confusion the wrong permits were applied for, which further delayed both undertakings. As we are all too well 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 should only be used for the intended purposes and in the designated locations. Community Board 7 is urged to begin an immediate official review and investigation of this matter. It is also requested that the office of the Comptroller of the City of New York commence a comprehensive audit in regard to these funds and actions of the agencies involved. Nothing I have written is meant to infer wrongdoing on the part of any individual but it's obvious that the planned park and traffic enhancements have somehow been derailed. It's time to get them back on track. Warren Schreiber President, Bay Terrace Community Alliance, Inc.