Monday, June 02, 2008

$15 million of taxpayer money bet on the whim of a sparrow.

Life in Gotham continues...
Taxpayers are being forced to shell out $15 million on the off chance that a rare sparrow will come back to roost at a former city landfill overlooking Brooklyn's Marine Park.

Trash-strewn White Island is quietly being converted into a habitat for the little bird called Henslow's sparrow, which hasn't been spotted in the Big Apple in more than a decade, The Post has learned.

The effort to turn the weed-choked spot into beautiful grasslands came in response to promises officials made in the mid-1990s when allowing a developer to wipe out the sparrow's habitat to build a massive shopping center near Starrett City in 2002... officials felt it was in the city's best interest to have the hundreds of new jobs the shopping center brought, and the plan was to replace the 56 acres four miles away at the former garbage dump.

Now, more than 10 years later, the city Parks Department has finally begun recreating the sparrow's habitat. Workers last month began spraying herbicides to kill weeds that will be replaced by beautiful grasslands.

"I guess we are following the lead of the movie 'Field of Dreams,' in that if we build it, they will come. But I wouldn't bet on it," admitted Mike Fellar, the city Parks Department's chief naturalist.
Though that's exactly what he is doing, of course, with other peoples' money.

Ida Sanoff, chairwoman of the environmental group Natural Resources Protective Association, said ..."What are they going to do? Put up a sign saying: 'Hello, sparrows. Beautiful nesting places here!'?"

Geoffrey Croft, who heads the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates, blasted the city for killing off not just weeds, but some endangered plant life, while spraying the herbicides...
Aw, you can't win.
Fellar said it's unlikely that the public will have access to White Island once it's cleaned up -- despite it being classified as parkland -- because officials want the habitat kept pristine for the wildlife.
Of course. Why would eight million citizens of a city, paying the highest taxes in the nation, want access to parkland they pay to create when a sparrow might, or might not, light on it?

We New York City taxpayers would have a higher expected return from that $15 million if Bloomberg took it to Atlantic City, went to a roulette wheel and bet it all on Black-13.