Every day is a winding road. And so is every state funding scheme.
This year the region’s transportation agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will put $2.3 million into a new parking garage for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. While some Brooklynites are surely rejoicing at the prospect of a new place to park near BAM, the bi-state’s train, plane and boat agency is less than thrilled to spend its money on the lot.
“This is the result of a bad political deal,” said spokesman Marc LaVorgna.
Money that went to the BAM cultural district followed a long-and-roundabout route out of the Port Authority’s transportation-based budget. The bad political deal, according to the Port Authority, is an agreement between two former heads of state, George Pataki and New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman. The agreement created a $250 million fund specifically earmarked for New York spending. The odd part is, the cash wasn’t reserved for transportation projects. Instead, the pot is completely controlled by the Empire State Development Corporation and goes largely to fund cultural projects rather than the infrastructure projects that are the agency’s mission.
Critics — including Brooklynites who want a new parking garage just as much the next guy — have slammed the system as a sophisticated slush fund for the pet projects of state officials.
“People have friends in high places and so they get the money,” said Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene),”There is no conversation of where this money is needed or how it should be spent.”