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         New York City DOT Revokes & Terminates Consent Agreement




 

letters from City DOT revoking consent agreement, terminating  project and ordering BHRA to dismantle the Brooklyn Trolley Project  

        An Open Letter From BHRA Founder Bob Diamond:

BHRA has been a volunteer organization from the time of its inception back in 1982.  New York City DOT has proclaimed that this group of volunteers, who spent the past 7 years building a trolley line, should simply dismantle it based on "orders" of dubious legality. 

Almost $300,000 in Federal, State and City funds were invested into this project.  The project was required to have a "useful lifespan" of at least 10 years.  The trolley line has not yet been fully completed- let alone been in full service for 10 years.  For BHRA to dismantle the project based on "orders" from CDOT may in fact be tantamount to destruction of public property, and open BHRA personnel to criminal prosecution or other civil liability.

The CDOT entered into contracts with both the Federal Highways Administration and the New York State Department of Transportation for project grant funding.  Since CDOT contractually agreed to provide a "completed project" to those funding Agencies, CDOT may in fact be in Breach of Contract and be required to refund all grant monies received to date. According to legal statutes, CDOT may also be "blackballed" from receiving further Federal and State grants due to its refusal to complete the project.

Also, in order to receive Federal funding the entire "structure" had to be deemed eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, under section 106 of the Federal Historic preservation laws. Removal without prior authorization from those Agencies might constitute a breach of State and Federal laws. At any point in the removal process, any person could pursue the listing of the trolley tracks on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  If that were to occur, no public money could be used in their removal.

One does not simply "remove and fill in" trolley tracks in the City of New York.  Detailed engineering plans must first be filed with the NYC Department of Design and Construction, and that Agency’s approval sought.  It is even possible an EAS and EIS would be required.  Further, construction permits from the City would be required.

According to CDOT’s own internal cost estimates, it will cost the City a minimum of $500,000 to demolish the project and fill in the holes left behind.  Its seems almost preposterous that in a time of financial crisis, CDOT will approach Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council, to request nearly $1,000,000 in funding ($500,000 for demolition and $300,000 to repay Federal grants), to demolish a project that could have been completed for only $400,000- as well as place the CDOT’s Federal and State grant standing in jeopardy.

In the 21 years I have worked in the non-profit field, I have heard of grants to construct a project- but I have never, ever heard of grants for the demolition of a project.  I have no clue as to what CDOT was thinking when they thought BHRA could raise a huge amount of funding to demolish its own project.

In short, I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Red Hook trolley will be demolished that quickly.  BHRA simply does not have the authority or resources to comply with CDOT’s "demolition orders".  Short of receiving authorization from Federal and State authorities to demolish and remove Federal and State property, and a substantial funding source to accomplish same, BHRA cannot take any action.  Similarly, in a time of financial crisis, I cannot fathom the notion of CDOT using almost $1,000,000 of NYC tax payers’ money to demolish a project that can be completed for $400,000- especially at a time when Fire Houses are being closed and the Police Department threatened with cutbacks and layoffs.

CDOT’s ill advised action has also left the City in a very precarious accident liability position. Since the CDOT Revoked its Consent, BHRA can no longer maintain the track construction sites on Conover Street and Reed Street.  The traffic and pedestrian safety barriers can no longer be legally maintained.  BHRA can no longer maintain the safety- or "tidiness" of the construction sites- who will? What if God forbid, a motorist or pedestrian becomes injured?  BHRA can no longer insure the site, as CDOT has Revoked its Consent, therefore BHRA no longer has any site control or site responsibility.  The City of New York is now dangerously exposed to un-insured accident litigations at work sites which are now abandoned and un-maintained.

Oddly enough, CDOT is about to receive a Federal "T-3" "High Priority" grant of $1.4 million to study a downtown Brooklyn to Red Hook light rail line. The grant is coming through the efforts of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

 

Sincerely,

Bob Diamond

 

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