Griffo questions  “wasteful” spending on new construction at Taste NY store

In letter, Sen. Joseph Griffo seeks answers from Thruway Authority – says funding not being used in best interest of New Yorkers

State Sen. Joseph Griffo is calling upon the New York State Thruway Authority to explain why it is already renovating a Taste NY store in the Mohawk Valley so soon after spending millions of dollars to build it.

On Thursday, Senator Griffo, R-Rome, sent a letter to Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director William Finch that expressed his concerns about spending after recent news reports highlighted the new reconstruction now occurring at the rest area near Lock E-13 along the Erie Canal.

“After spending a reported $7.5 million to construct this facility, what could possibly justify an additional $1 million to $3 million in new renovations so soon?” Griffo wrote to Finch. “Whatever the reason, this appears to be a wasteful and potentially unacceptable use of the toll dollars and taxes collected from the residents of New York state.”

In the letter, Griffo described these new renovations as an “apparent waste of state dollars” just eight months after this new Taste NY store was first unveiled in Montgomery County. This development, the senator added, raises serious questions about how the Thruway Authority is spending its funds, particularly after it was relieved this year of its responsibility for the state canal system in order to save money.

“The Authority has a duty to the people of New York to ensure that their money – collected through tolls and taxes – is effectively spent,” Griffo wrote as a member of the State Senate Committee on Transportation. “But based upon recent news reports of this questionable renovation, it appears that the Authority may not be using this funding in the best interest of New Yorkers.”

Griffo concluded by requesting a “full and thorough explanation concerning these renovations.”

The full text of Griffo’s letter to Finch appears below:

March 30, 2017

William Finch, Acting Executive Director, New York State Thruway Authority, 200 Southern Boulevard, Albany, NY 12209

Dear Acting Executive Director Finch,

A mere eight months after the Taste NY store was unveiled at the Living History Rest Area at Lock E-13 of the Erie Canal, the facility is already undergoing reconstruction. After spending a reported $7.5 million to construct this facility, what could possibly justify an additional $1 million to $3 million in new renovations so soon?

Whatever the reason, this appears to be a wasteful and potentially unacceptable use of the toll dollars and taxes collected from the residents of New York State.

As a member of the state Senate’s Committee on Transportation, I am troubled by this apparent waste of state dollars. It raises serious questions about how the Thruway Authority is spending its funds, particularly in light of last year’s actions to cut costs for the Authority by relieving it of its responsibility for the state canal system. This must not become a pattern that plagues the state’s other Taste NY stores constructed or renovated by the Authority. The Authority has a duty to the people of New York to ensure that their money – collected through tolls and taxes – is effectively spent. But based upon recent news reports of this questionable renovation, it appears that the Authority may not be using this funding in the best interest of New Yorkers.

For instance, a recent statement by the Authority included “electric vehicle charging stations” as being among the building’s improvements. If this is part of an effort to accommodate Governor Cuomo’s desire to increase the number of EV charging stations statewide – including installing 69 along the Thruway – then this is certainly an unfortunate, and costly, lack of foresight by the Authority. 

I am requesting a full and thorough explanation concerning these renovations. To ensure that the money of hardworking New Yorkers is not wasted, the Authority must explain in detail the activities taking place at the Living History Rest Area at Lock E-13.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely, Joseph A. Griffo, Senator, 47th District

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