Sunday, December 21, 2008

Waste Report Identifies Queens Park by Michael Lanza - Queens Tribune

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A Queens park was singled out in a senate report on wasteful federal spending released last week.

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park in Howard Beach, part of the Jamaica Bay Unit at the Gateway National Recreation Area, was prominently identified in U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Oklahoma) Worst Waste of the Year report.

The troubled park was singled out after $1 million in federal funds were granted this year to repair and maintain its ailing tennis courts and baseball field – the same grant it had received eight years earlier to little effect.

“While these examples of waste might seem insignificant when compared with the overall federal budget, the cost is sizeable when added together. And worse, many of these low priority projects are funded year after year, regardless of whether they achieve their intended effects or not,” the report said. “Such was the case with the Frank M. Charles Memorial Park in New York, which received $1 million in 2008 to repair tennis courts and to install Astroturf on a single baseball field. The same park received a $1 million grant in 2000 for similar upgrades, but the money was squandered, leaving the park in a state of disrepair and in need of more federal funds.”

The report alleged failures in park management and their “notorious inability” to perform routine maintenance at the site, leaving both the tennis courts and baseball field in disrepair.

Coburn, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, said the report is intended to illuminate “absurd federal spending from beltway bureaucrats and elected officials.”

“As we look back on federal spending for 2008, American taxpayers will laugh, and then cry at how their elected officials spent their hard-earned dollars. Not even these tough economic times have dulled Congress’ ability to find new and creative ways to waste taxpayer dollars,” he said.

The report identified more than $1.3 billion earmarked on alleged wasteful spending this year.

“The waste highlighted in this report is only a fraction of the more than $385 billion the federal government throws away every year through waste, fraud and duplication,” Coburn said. “The story the American people already understand is that Congress’ inability to make common sense decisions about spending priorities is putting our children’s future at risk. Until Congress abandons the short-term parochialism that gives us Lobster Cams and inflatable alligators, we will never get a handle on the major economic challenges facing this country.”

Park representatives did not respond to calls for comment.