Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Avella Calls Out EDC

We are in receipt of a letter that State Senator-Elect Tony Avella has sent to NYSDOT Commissioner Gee. The letter asks Gee to insist that NYC EDC release the revised ramp report that the agency has been holding on to in spite of the legal requirements-under FOIL-that the document be released to Willets Point United on request.

As Avella says, "It has come to my attention that various FOIL requests have been submitted by Willets Point United Inc., to NYCEDC regarding these proposals and the agency has not been fully forth coming with the requested documentation. Most significant amongst the various FOIL requests was a request for a revised version of the Access Modification Report (AMR) on this project which NYCEDC has apparently refused to provide."

Now, given the extent to which WPU's Brian Ketcham sliced and diced the original ramp report, it is hardly surprising that EDC is reluctant to be transparent and compliant a second time. That being said, having acknowledged that WPU had a right under FOIL to the first report, the agency hasn't a leg to stand on if it wishes to deny the revised report to the impacted businesses-and the community groups that support them.

Avella makes this clear: "I find it very disturbing that NYCEDC would deny public access to a document that the agency knows full well it is required to release pursuant to both state and city FOIL laws.  Furthermore, given the tremendous impact that this project is expected to have on the surrounding communities it is imperative that the public have knowledge of this information so that there is an opportunity to respond to the planned proposals in an informed and intelligent manner."

The entire foot dragging scheme is designed to limit the exposure of the ramp report to any independent review-and attempt to rush the revision through the regulatory agencies with as little scrutiny as possible. However, given the deficiencies in the original submission, it behooves DOT to make sure that the current report is as thoroughly vetted as possible. And, if as we suspect, the revised report is found lacking, it would make an even stronger case for sending the entire issue out for independent analysis-as two leading environmental groups have asked for.

The secrecy of the current revision process doesn't bode well for the public interest-and we suspect that the revised ramp report will play as well as the appointment of Cathie Black to be schools chancellor. Stay tuned.