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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Klein showers millions on district

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Photo by Osjua A. Newton
State Sen. Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the Parks Department’s Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector Aponte and Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Chairman Eric Seiff at an Aug. 27 press conference announcing $1.275 million in state and municipal grants for a new playground at Van Cortlandt Park.
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State Sen. Co-majority Leader Jeff Klein has allocated nearly $14 million to his district so far this year, with $1.25 million of those funds benefitting Riverdale. Mr. Klein announced most of the funding at press conferences, and there could be more to come before 2014 is over. 

A new playground at Van Cortlandt Park aimed at north Riverdale residents is the latest local example of the largesse. As with two other projects, Riverdale’s Councilman Andrew Cohen contributed funds, making the total allocation for the playground $1.25 million.

At an Aug. 27 press conference to announce the new facility, where groundbreaking is scheduled to start in two to two and a half years, Mr. Klein was modest about his budgeting feat, saying he does whatever he can to help parks.

But Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz lavished praise on Mr. Klein and Mr. Cohen.

“Let me thank both Council Member Cohen and Senator Klein for having the wisdom to invest lots of public money in my district and, in particular, in Van Cortlandt Park,” he said.

Local organizations that recently won funding include Riverdale Neighborhood House (RNH), which received $250,000 from the senator and $75,000 from Mr. Cohen; Riverdale Mental Health Association (RMHA), which received $250,000 from Mr. Klein; Wave Hill, which received $150,000 from the senator; and Riverdale Senior Services, which received $100,000 from Mr. Klein.

While good government groups such as Citizens Union have criticized the state Senate’s budget process for years as lacking transparency, heads of Riverdale non-profits are elated at the funding. Citizens Union also recently endorsed Mr. Klein, calling him a “an outspoken champion of campaign finance reform and strong supporter of the constitutional redistricting amendment.”

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