The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daily News Article

The following article was just published in the New York Daily News. It appears to be another example of oversight issues at the Department of Parks & Recreation. Perhaps the City Comptroller's Office should do an audit of this arrangement:

Park turns into parking lot but where's the 900G?

By John Lauinger

Daily News Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 14th 2008, 7:02 PM

Show us the money.

That's the rallying cry of a Flushing watchdog group that wants to know what the city Parks Department has done with almost $900,000 in revenue from a deal that turned 2.5 acres of Kissena Corridor Park into a gravel parking lot.

New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens agreed to pay $24,943 a month for the once-wooded lot as part of a three-year lease set to expire at the end of the year.

"Everyone would like to know how this money has been utilized," said Chuck Wade of the Kissena Park Conservancy West. "We don't have any kind of written statement about the receipts and the expenditures."

The advocacy group formed shortly after the public learned of the deal, which permitted the hospital to bulldoze the land into 400 temporary parking spaces while it builds a parking garage.

The deal also allows the hospital to make payments in "services instead of cash.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski could not say how much the hospital has paid to the city over the last three years.

But she detailed a host of upgrades to Kissena Corridor Park that used the hospital's funding.

The city paved several walking paths and replaced sections of fencing, she said. It also hired three maintenance workers and bought maintenance equipment.

Over the course of the lease, another employee was hired to oversee the playground during spring and summer months.

The funding also provided for upgrades to other parks within Community Board 7, Lewandowski said, including a major project to prune and fertilize trees in the Kissena Park arboretum.

"This gave us the funding to move forward and get that done," she said.

The hospital will finance an environmental restoration of the land once the lease expires.

Camela Morrissey, the hospital's vice president for public affairs, said it has "no plans" to apply for an extension, as long as it can receive necessary permits for its parking garage.

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