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City wants to dip into airport funds for Olympic pool – QNS.com

City wants to dip into airport funds for Olympic pool

By Courtney Dentch

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Helen Marshall were hoping to use as much as $15 million for the pool out of the money the Port Authority has set aside to mitigate the problems of communities surrounding Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, according to members of the Airport Lease Advisory Board, the group overseeing the money's allocation.”The borough president feels that it is a good use for what would be 15 percent of the money, since the pool is a boroughwide capital project that would not just benefit one or two or three community groups, but the entire borough,” said Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall.But the advisory board is pushing to use the airport funds for projects directly related to the communities affected by the airports rather than the pool for the city's 2012 Olympics bid, said Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), chairman of the advisory board.”The city can't use this money as a piggy bank,” he said.Calls to the mayor's press office were not returned.Bloomberg announced earlier this month that he wanted to build a new pool in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to hold swimming events if New York City wins its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Original plans called for renovations to the pool in Astoria Park, but the city opted not to use that venue.About $40 million had been set aside to pay for the pool, but engineering decisions pushed the cost closer to $52 million, members of the advisory board said.Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff were negotiating on the money with the advisory board and were working to find other funding sources, said Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), another member of the Airport Lease Advisory Board.Queens is slated to get up to $100 million over the next 20 years as part of the Port Authority's renewal of its leases at Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports. The agency, which extended its lease through 2050, initially agreed to chip in $50 million for borough projects over 10 years to make up for problems communities may have because of the airports.But Sanders and Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) were able to negotiate additional funds for Queens.The mayor has the final say over which projects will receive funding, but the advisory board will vet plans through public hearings, Sanders said.The board, which includes seven borough Council members, is still getting its footing in terms of what role it will play in the process, Comrie said. Meetings with Bloomberg and Doctoroff were to be set once they returned from visiting the Olympic Games in Athens, Sanders said.”We expect the mayor will be extremely sensitive to the needs of the affected communities and establish a good working relationship with the committee,” Sanders said.Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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