Accountability and the Carlton Avenue Bridge
For the last year, Brooklynites have wondered why reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue has not been completed, and why the bridge is not scheduled to reopen until sometime in the third quarter of 2012, almost two and a half years after Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and the ESDC promised it would be done. Yesterday, they may have heard part of the answer.
It turns out FCRC was looking for an additional $9 million of public money to make good on its promise to contribute $16 million of the $40 million cost of reconstruction. In December, FCRC turned to help from State Senator Carl Kruger, now facing federal corruption charges. In a wiretapped telephone conversation, Mr. Kruger explains to Bruce Bender, FCRC Executive Vice President for governmental relations, that he can find only $4 million to fund the bridge and another of Mr. Bender's pet projects in Prospect Park. "I don't mind f---ing the bridge," Mr. Bender is heard to say.
While it may not be criminal, this shocking exchange casts a harsh new light on the callousness with which FCRC views its public commitments on Atlantic Yards. It's yet another example of why Governor Cuomo needs to move quickly to reform the oversight of this out-of-control State project.