Putnam Trail Project - Federal Earmark Funding

Announcement

A lot of research has gone into finding out where the funding came from for the highly unpopular Putnam Trail paving project. It turns out that the funding didn’t come from the traditional competitive federal funding program (Transportation Enhancements).

NYC Parks been very careful never to mention that this funding actually came from the highly unpopular federal earmarking system which has no public input or accountability. No application or public approval is required to secure a federal Earmark. This is how NYC Parks has been allowed to unilaterally promote the paving option for the Putnam Trail. NYC Parks just finally unveiled a web page which details the Putnam Trail paving plans yet makes no mention of a Federal Earmark.

http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/putnam_rail_trail.html

We tracked the funding down and the funds for the “Putnam Greenway Trail” specifically came from two federal EARMARKS secured by Congressman Eliot Engel & Congressman Anthony Weiner (450K, and 950K) which were attached to the SAFETEA-LU Bill passed in 2005. The famous 200 million “Bridge to Nowhere” Earmark was also attached to the same bill.

What we also found from our research is that a Congressman can write a letter to the Secretary of the US Dept. of Transportation asking that Earmark funding (such as the $1,400,000 Putnam Trail Earmarks) be reallocated or reprogrammed to other projects. If a Congressman secures the Secretary’s approval this $1,400,000 can be allocated towards a project the public is actually asking for. (Not paving asphalt through a beautiful historic park). So, a Congressman can request that the Putnam Trail Earmark specifically be reallocated to a trail which is surfaced with stone dust and not asphalt.

The only requirement of a Congressman’s new request is that the project would have to be a transportation project which I am sure the Bronx has many of!

We were wondering if anyone could suggest any transportation projects in the Bronx which were desperately in need of funding which this $1,400,000 could be used towards? We are sure you can!

Please tell your congressman to write a letter to the US Secretary of Transportation asking that the $1,400,000 Earmark for paving the Putnam Trail be reallocated or reassigned to another project unless the NYC Parks Dept. agrees to let the Putnam Trail become stone dust and not pavement.

www.savetheputnamtrail.com

Comments

Not sure where replyer's facts are from

The design wasn't come up with until 2009-early 2010. So am not sure where the 2007 figure comes from in the comment. The community boards did not consider the plan till much later, and only one board committee wrote approval (which cannot be representative of an entire board). In 2013, the paving design was rejected by CB8, and in 2014, CB8 approved the masterplan for the park (not a concretized plan but guideline) with the rider that all trails were to be flexible, permeable, and suitable for wetlands.

The trail may have hosted a rail line for a century, but before then, it was just regular land. And the trail after the rail line ended because a nature trail over time -- important in that with development nature areas have gotten squeezed into corners of the city, and park.

What is lacking is that no consideration was given to the trail running through a rare freshwater wetland (99% of them ion NYC have been filled in through the years). The area around the trail is a rare nature area with a viable ecosystem, and which NYSDEC itself has said has a biodiversity rarely seen in the Bronx. It has breeding birds not seen in Central Park and is an IBA. Yet now supposedly a paved greenway will be built through this same area so New Yorkers "can see the city." NYSParks itself in 2013 authored a document saying construction projects in the park through the years have resulted in poor soil results and fragmentation of nature. Not only this, but bikes will be able to speed through the area that should be kept slow so for in-park nature use as asphalt allows for speeds of 20 mph and higher. So much for protecting our nature areas and the safety of pedestrians.

Not sure where replyer's facts are from

The design wasn't come up with until 2009-early 2010. So am not sure where the 2007 figure comes from in the comment. The community boards did not consider the plan till much later, and only one board committee wrote approval (which cannot be representative of an entire board). In 2013, the paving design was rejected by CB8, and in 2014, CB8 approved the masterplan for the park (not a concretized plan but guideline) with the rider that all trails were to be flexible, permeable, and suitable for wetlands.

The trail may have hosted a rail line for a century, but before then, it was just regular land. And the trail after the rail line ended because a nature trail over time -- important in that with development nature areas have gotten squeezed into corners of the city, and park.

What is lacking is that no consideration was given to the trail running through a rare freshwater wetland (99% of them ion NYC have been filled in through the years). The area around the trail is a rare nature area with a viable ecosystem, and which NYSDEC itself has said has a biodiversity rarely seen in the Bronx. It has breeding birds not seen in Central Park and is an IBA. Yet now supposedly a paved greenway will be built through this same area so New Yorkers "can see the city." NYSParks itself in 2013 authored a document saying construction projects in the park through the years have resulted in poor soil results and fragmentation of nature. Not only this, but bikes will be able to speed through the area that should be kept slow so for in-park nature use as asphalt allows for speeds of 20 mph and higher. So much for protecting our nature areas and the safety of pedestrians.

The Community Has Approved

It wasn't a "nature trail", it was a railroad with tracks still on it when we started the plan back in about 1991. A task force was started by the Borough President which included the CB8 Parks Committee Chair as Chair. The original plan, actually far more than one, followed the idea that the paved Putnam Trail would be paired with the Old Croton Aqueduct trail that is not paved. The Plan was vetted by the community in 1993, and every Community Board voted on the plan and the Borough Board as well.

There have been more meetings than I can count over the last 2 decades which involved the community, Community Boards, Parks and elected officials. In 2007, the plans were revised based on the community's input, and a compromise reached that reduced the width of the pavement and added a runners path. Once again, the local Community Board, Borough Board, and Design Commission approved it.