(Editor’s Note: Floral Park Trustee Thomas Tweedy, chairman of the village’s Third Track Task Force, prepared this statement for the 2010-2014 MTA Capital Plan Public Hearing.)
“My name is Thomas Tweedy and I serve as deputy mayor and trustee of the Inc. Village of Floral Park. I also serve as chairman of the Third Track Task Force.
“While high priced lobbyists and special interest groups tried to ram through their third track mega project from Floral Park to Hicksville, we the people have made our voices heard loud and clear.
“The litany of reasons for our opposition is well documented and need not be repeated here, but suffice to say, that in the end fiscal sanity prevailed and, with the subsequent appointment of Senator Craig Johnson to this MTA Review Board, we, his constituents, felt for the first time since 2005 that the threat of the third track had been put to rest. We assured our residents and businesses, that all would be well. Senator Johnson’s appointment ensured regional representation for Long Island’s commuters and unequivocal, staunch opposition to this multi-billion dollar boondoggle.
“Not that Senator Johnson’s support seemed necessary as Helena Williams, the president of the LIRR, herself conceded as much and stated that the third track mega project had been shelved. Recently, lobbying by special interests groups have once again used back room politics and off the record methods to make an end run around the DEIS review process. Now, to the shock and surprise of constituents who have played by the rules and prevailed, this unwanted and unneeded multi billion dollar boondoggle is being pulled from the shelf and shoved into this MTA Capital Plan, unfunded and in concept only.
“The inclusion of this project, in any form, in the 2010-14 Capital Plan subverts the entire review process: a process honored by over 10,000 residents who signed and submitted petitions, to the thousands who civilly attended scoping hearings in 2005, the hundreds who testified and hundreds more who submitted written statements, and the thousands of volunteer hours provided by professionals, elected representatives and ordinary citizens all in opposition to this project. Even as we respected the democratic process, the same special interest groups who condemn Senator Johnson’s principled position today, mercilessly labeled these tens of thousands of Long Island residents and taxpayers with the vilest names and mischaracterizations.
“We consistently warned and have strongly protested the appearance of the influence of the high priced lobbyists but apparently their ugly methods have poisoned the process yet again.
“This project, after reasoned deliberation, was responsibly abandoned. How irresponsible in these current economic times would spending over $1.5 billion for 10 miles of track be? We have a $10 billion deficit in this plan now. How can we afford to make it $12 billion? The time has come for our elected representatives in Albany to send a clear message to the MTA; that its days of economic exuberance are over; That its $1.5 billion third track boondoggle joins the bridge to nowhere to the scrap heap of bad ideas that should stay on the shelf and not on the table. The MTA needs to concentrate primarily on maintaining its bridges, plant, and equipment and to reduce debt. And the MTA must complete the work already begun, without compromise and without delay.
“The manipulation of the democratic review process that happened here must stop now, never to be repeated.
“We respectfully request that this Board protect and defend the sanctity of the process and urge you to listen to the will of we the people. We call upon you as elected representatives and as members of this Board to exercise prudent stewardship with our tax dollars and demonstrate courageous leadership so as to allow NY’s overburdened taxpayers and municipalities to plan for renewed and expanded growth unimpeded by the
insatiable appetites of the special interest groups who appear to have free reign in Albany and undue influence with the MTA.
“Lastly, I wish to thank you for providing this forum here in Nassau County.
“To the members of the Board and your staffs I appreciate your efforts in organizing the myriad of details and accommodations to afford us the opportunity to speak with you today; it is indeed an honor and a refreshing change. “