Originally published in Issue 7 - Mar 24, 1997

Bond Act Hearing Raises Many Questions

On Thursday, March 20, representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) traveled downstate to discuss the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act (Bond Act). The public hearing covered the implementation of the Bond Act as well as potential projects. It found an audience which felt confused about how to get funds and left out of the process for awarding them. Public comments were taped for consideration when the State convenes to approve--or disapprove--criteria for project eligibility.

How would other communities fare? Buffalo would receive approximately $19 million for sewage treatment projects and smaller communities would receive $7.4 million for similar projects.

Testifiers were irked by a perceived lapse in communication between DEC and the Cityís voters since the Bond Act passed. Many people at the hearing said they had heard about it that day, some people were seeing proposed criteria for the first time, and others had learned about the Governorís project recommendations from newspapers, even though they sit on advisory boards for these projects. Several people with potential projects had found the process for accessing Bond Act funds mysterious and difficult and argued that public hearings should have been held prior to drafting of projects.

Other members of the public questioned the Governorís list of proposed projects. The design and construction of a storage tank to reduce sewer overflow in Flushing Bay would receive $10 million of the approximately $18 million allocation for NYC in 1996-1997, only a small fraction of funds needed for a project with a $400 million price tag.