SCHUMER: CLAWBACK OF FEDERAL FUNDS COULD STOP PROGRESS TO REHAB GEIGER LAKE MEMORIAL PARK IN WYANDANCH; SENATOR SAYS HUD IS BEING UNREASONABLE & MUST EXTEND DEADLINE OR BABYLON WILL LOSE $400,000 & PARK WILL NEVER GET DONE
Town of Babylon Has $400k In CDBG Grant Dollars That Will Expire On December 31st Because of Unpreventable Construction Issues & Will Be Clawed Back By HUD
Geiger Project Is Core Part Of Larger Wyandanch Rising Revival; Extension of Funding Required So Repairs at Park Stay on Track; Senator Says Town & Park Goers Should Not Be Penalized; Claw Back Threatens Several Improvements, Like New Playground
Schumer: HUD Should Not Force Town of Babylon To Permanently Park Plans To Revive Geiger
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to not claw back $400,000 from the Town of Babylon’s federal grant needed to make improvements to Geiger Lake Memorial Park. The Town of Babylon received the HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding—a total of $700,000—as part of the Wyandanch Rising (Phase II) initiative to revitalize Geiger Lake Memorial Park, however, because of unforeseen infrastructural issues the work has not yet been completed. If the remaining $400,000 in CDBG funds are not used by HUD’s December 31st deadline, the remaining funding will be clawed back by HUD. Schumer explained that the park had been falling into disrepair and was also being used for criminal activity. As part of the Wyandanch Rising initiative, this funding would help make the park safer and more enjoyable for park-goers. For instance, Schumer said that the claw back threatens initiatives to restore lighting and infrastructure, two elements crucial to the safety of park-goers; the claw back also threatens the possibility of a new playground, an activity hub and the botanical gardens. Schumer today urged HUD to extend the December 31st deadline for the Town of Babylon so that these improvements can be made.
“A claw back of federal funding could seriously delay the necessary upgrades at Geiger Lake Memorial Park and would hurt the overall progress of the Wyandanch Rising initiative. The Town of Babylon and its residents should not be penalized for unforeseen construction issues at the park and that’s why I’m urging HUD to extend its deadline which would allow these necessary upgrades to continue on schedule. This federal investment will make Geiger Lake Memorial Park better than ever and will attract more visitors, making it safer and more enjoyable for all. HUD should do the right thing and allow the Town of Babylon to keep this funding and make these much-needed repairs,” said Senator Schumer.
"This funding is absolutely vital to continue our full-scale transformation of this once blighted park," said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. "I thank Senator Schumer for his advocacy, as he recognizes that this park will not only be a crucial piece of Wyandanch's revitalization, but a second-to-none park experience that will serve as a regional attraction."
The Wyandanch Rising initiative is a $500 million public/private revitalization project in the Town of Babylon that includes residential units, retail space, restaurants and gallery space. The initiative first began 15 years ago as a way to help revitalize the community.
As part of the initiative, the Town of Babylon is redeveloping Geiger Lake Memorial Park. The first phase of the project was completed two years ago and included a spray park and pavilion. After its opening, the spray park saw approximately 20,000 visitors from the local community. The next phase includes lighting, infrastructure work like new benches and pathways, and a botanical garden.
The CDBG program, administered by HUD, is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of community development needs. The Town of Babylon may not be able to use the CDBG funding in time for the deadline because of two unforeseen issues. First, there were infrastructure issues requiring additional repairs that were not initially accounted for. Second, the bidder that won the bid for installation of playground equipment withdrew at the last minute and a new contractor still needs to be selected. Schumer said that the Town of Babylon should not be penalized for these unforeseen issues.
Schumer is urging HUD to grant an extension to the Town of Babylon so that this federal funding can be used to repair the park. The Town of Babylon has already sent a request for an extension and Schumer is fully supporting its request. Schumer said that an extension should be granted for a number of reason. Schumer said that a claw back could throw the park’s revitalization progress off schedule. Schumer explained that this park has been in disrepair and is in need of upgrades to make it safer for children and families. Therefore, these upgrades should be a priority.
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