Fraud funds should pay for bridge


Ever since the city decided to place the Croton Water Filtration Plant in Van Cortlandt Park in spite of community concerns, we have been waiting to see the $200 million in mitigation funds that were promised in return.

In Community Board 8, you would need to squint hard to discern the benefits of what the city claims it has already spent. The Parade Ground in Van Cortlandt Park is finally open for play, but that seems more like an end to deferred maintenance than some kind of boon for Bronx parks.

And yes, the city has agreed to a jogging path around the Jerome Park Reservoir — but it’s set back from the water and will circle only two-thirds of the way around before it comes to a sudden stop.

And despite a 1999 Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) agreement that listed a pedestrian bridge to unite the two sides of Van Cortlandt Park over the Major Deegan Expressway as a provision for building the plant, the Department of Environmental Protection claims it doesn’t have the money to hold up its end of that bargain.

Well, here’s an idea, one put forward by Bob Fanuzzi, chair of CB 8 as well as chair of the Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee: Use the $10 million being paid by a filter plant contractor in the latest fraud settlement to pay for the bridge, which Mr. Fanuzzi called the DEP’s “last unkept promise.”

“I would hate to see this $10 million just go into an empty pot and get spread around into nothing,” Mr. Fanuzzi told DEP officials at last week’s monitoring committee meeting.
In 2010, a feasibility study found the best option for the bridge would cost $3.6 million, which, factoring in inflation, means it would cost $3.79 million now.

Last week, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced a $10 million settlement with the contractor — Siemens Electrical, LLC — for breaking city law by not employing a master electrician and violating contract provisions calling for minority- and women-owned subcontractors.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, please use that money to keep the promise of a pedestrian bridge in Vannie. Ten years ago you stood in the Bronx and told us within five years we’d see an unprecedented commitment to investing in parks in this borough. You said it would create a “green legacy” for the Bronx. This year, as you’re thinking about your own legacy, think about the promise you made.
This may be the city’s last chance to at least secure a two-thirds victory lap when the $2 billion over-budget, scandal-scarred project is completed later this year.