President Obama recently signed a multi-billion dollar stimulus bill to aid the country's economy. That legislation promised money to states to fund public projects that are "shovel ready." New York State's share is reported to be $4 billion. The new federal money comes at an opportune time for Williston Park.
At a recent Village Board meeting, Paul Ehrbar raised an interesting point. He questioned the status of a 4-year old, $1,000,000 federal grant Congressman Gary Ackerman obtained for village road improvement, when Ehrbar's wife, Doreen Ehrbar, was mayor. The Village's answer was that none of that money had been expended on actual roadwork because of New York State's Department of Transportation's (DOT) demands for revision of the Village's plans for safe roads. But, some of the money had been spent for engineering studies to meet the DOT's demands. In light of that history of redesign, Williston Park's road projects should be ready to go.
However, at a recent Kings Point seminar, attended by a village representative, Congressman Ackerman dampened many spirits when he said that there wouldn't be much federal money available. Nevertheless, Congressman
Ackerman's designated "earmarks" are reported to range close to $2,000,000 and some of that earmark money goes to projects that appear quite noble, but also less important than giving taxpayers their money back so they can have safe roads.
Now we hear from Timothy Gilchrist, a veteran of New York's DOT and Governor Paterson's newly appointed "stimulus czar" that his office has received more than 5,800 requests for projects with total values of $32 billion.
Let's hope that one of those projects is from Williston Park. If not, the village should get on line as soon as possible. Village roads need lots of work and in this economy there certainly is no other source of funding that can be tapped for the money for safe roads.
Alan J. Reardon