2004-08-20 / Front Page

$100 Million High-Stakes Game Begins

By Howard Schwach

A battle between a committee of City Council Members and a powerful Deputy Mayor has begun with the power of the council and $100 million as the winner-take-all prize.

The money is to be provided by the Port Authority to communities in Queens because of the impact that the two large airports run by the agency have on the borough’s residents.

As part of the agreement, a committee made up of council members from impacted areas was formed to make the decisions on how the money would be spent.

According to sources close to the issue, however, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctorow has entered the equation in a big way, demanding $15 million of the pot for a swimming pool in Flushing that would support New York City’s Olympics 2012 bid.

When told that the money did not belong to him, but to the impact communities, Doctorow is reported to have said, “The money belongs to the Mayor and he can spend it any way he wants.”

On August 17, Councilman James Sanders, who represents the east end of Rockaway, was elected as chair of the committee tasked with coming up with a spending plan.

“This is going to be a real battle with Doctorow to bring this money to the community,” Sanders told The Wave. “We are going to have to show a lot of strength and unity to get this money spent where it belongs.”

Sanders plans to hold a number of community meetings in various parts of Queens to find out how those communities want the money spent.

He expects that those meetings will begin in early September.

“We have to get started as soon as possible,” Sanders says.

Rockaway’s situation in relation to the money is a shaky one, Sanders said, because Community Board 14 was the only board in Queens to vote against the proposal.

“There are those who believe that Rockaway should not get anything from the agreement because they voted against it,” Sanders said, adding that he was not about to let that happen.

The money must be spent for capital improvements such as store facades and buildings, and it must be airport-related.

Sanders explained, for example, that training for airport jobs would not be allowed, but the building of a vocational school that would do that training would be allowed.

Sanders plans to meet with Doctorow shortly to negotiate a truce with the city.

“I am going to try and become the peacemaker,” he said.

The other council members on the committee that Sanders will chair are Joseph Addabbo, Hiram Monserratte, Peter Vallone, Melinda Katz and Leroy Comrie.

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