Jul 28, 2014

Superblock Grant Sought Without Proper Approval

Trustee Doug Foster unilaterally sends grant form without permission, public meeting

Superblock Grant Sought Without Proper Approval

Nyack was recently chasing down an $11.8 million grant to help finance the budding .

But the grant application has been withdrawn—not because Nyack doesn't meet the criteria, but because the application was submitted without proper approval and without the knowledge of several village officials.

Doug Foster, a Nyack trustee who , sent the application on Nov. 1 unilaterally and without other legislators' consent, a violation of village procedure.

"Any grant application has to be approved by resolution of board" in a public meeting, explained Walter Sevastian, Nyack's village attorney.

"The board all knew he was working on it—we just didn’t know he was going to submit it without resolution," added mayor-elect Jen Laird-White. Laird-White and Foster both support the , a major downtown renovation that current mayor Richard Kavesh is opposed to.

"I made a choice I thought was best for the village," Foster said Friday morning. "I didn’t want to give up the opportunity for $12 million for the village."

The application Foster sent in seeks close to $12 million in funding and states the village will provide a $5 million land contribution for the project, which will cost around $80 million in full. Foster also noted on the application that the project's expected construction start date is spring 2013, and that the Superblock's service life clocks in at 75 years.

Once other trustees learned of Foster's submission, they were quick to withdraw the application, redacting it unanimously on Nov. 3 during the board's executive session.

"We withdrew every part of this grant at the end of the meeting," Kavesh said.

But board members also defended Foster.

"There was no intent by Foster… to make any kind of secret [maneuver]," said trustee Steve Knowlton, who added the misstep was not an issue of character, but a decision made under time constraints.

"I have no issue whatsoever with his intergrity or service to his board," Knowlton continued.

Knowlton added the Superblock project remains in its early stages; the village has only with possible developers.

Faith Elliot, a South Nyacker who has been involved with the Riverspace property for years, said she was shocked by the news—and said the board is too forgiving.

"It was jarring," she said of the controversy. "I raises ethical questions. There are policies and procedures in place."

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